CSTB’s 2007 Man of the Year, Sam Zell, is letting the Wrigley family know they may have to pay for the privilege of keeping their name atop Wrigley Field and reminding the world of one of the most embarrassing front office runs in baseball history, one still zero-netting World Series appearances for the Cubs today. Zell has literally brought a “fuck you” attitude to the Tribune Co, as seen in this video when a reporter challenges Zell on a key issue facing the nation this election year: puppies.

Crain’s Chicago Business reports on William Wrigley, Jr.:

Sam Zell is trying to make William Wrigley Jr. chase a bad pitch.Through a Cubs exec, Mr. Zell recently suggested Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. “step up” and pay for having its name on the ballpark dubbed for the company’s former owner, Mr. Wrigley’s great-grandfather.The face-off pits Mr. Zell, a self-styled outsider who rides a Ducati motorcycle, against Mr. Wrigley, an old-money scion of the Chicago establishment who takes his recreation astride a polo pony.

Sam Zell

William Wrigley Jr.

But brand and sports marketing experts say it makes little business sense for Wrigley to pay millions of dollars a year for naming rights at Wrigley Field that probably wouldn’t boost gum sales.”Wrigley would be pretty crazy to pay the Cubs for the naming rights,” says Dennis Howard, a business professor at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center.

Most companies buy naming rights to publicize unfamiliar brands, establish themselves in a local market or encourage more people to use a service, such as a bank, Mr. Howard says. Wrigley doesn’t fit those categories.

The company, which sold the Cubs and the field to Tribune in 1981, doesn’t use the ballpark in marketing itself, and having its name on it isn’t a benefit because the Wrigley brand is so well-known already, Mr. Howard says.


Mr. Zell could fetch $5 million to $6 million a year for naming rights to the park, says Jim Andrews, a senior vice-president of Chicago-based consultancy IEG LLC.

That estimate is significantly less than naming deals for new stadiums, partly because any buyer would face a backlash from Cubs fans loyal to the Wrigley name, which has been in place since 1926.

Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney publicly called out Wrigley last month, probably as an attempt to create community pressure on Mr. Wrigley, Mr. Andrews says.A spokesman for Mr. Zell says the gum company has long received free advertising from the ballpark and that Tribune is looking at all possible options to raise money. A Wrigley spokesman declines to comment.

Wrigley is probably paying about $7 million to $9 million a year to have its Big Red brand’s logo plastered on the car of Juan Pablo Montoya for half his Nascar races this coming season, Mr. Andrews says. He estimates the company also pays $3 million to $4 million a year to be the official gum of the National Basketball Assn.

Mr. Andrews says both those sponsorships provide more national exposure for Wrigley than a stadium name and allow the company to highlight particular brands, key in gum marketing.