Chewing On Naming Rights

Die-hard Chicago Cubs fans probably thought nothing worse could happen to beloved Wrigley Field than when the lights were flipped on August 8, 1988, and the abomination of night baseball won a victory over tradition.

Fast forward 20 years, and the outrage is back – this time, traditionalists are fighting for Wrigley Field’s very name.

A new bear is in town, and Tribune Co. exec Sam Zell has made it known he won’t hesitate to sell the naming rights, whether fans like it or not. And not only are naming rights up for grabs, but the team is on the sales block separately from the stadium.

During a recent interview with CNBC, Zell said that despite Wrigley Field being known worldwide, he "didn’t get a discount" because he wasn’t going to use the naming rights that the field represents.

The plan to sell the team and stadium separately has caused some consternation in the Windy City as well as the state of Illinois, as a state governmental authority is working on an unpopular bid for the 94-year-old stadium.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is also reportedly steamed at the prospect of sales tax revenue being diverted and the ballpark’s landmark status being changed, according to the Chicago Tribune.

And Illinois lawmakers are reportedly resistant to the idea of spending money to help out a private business. Throw in a heaping helping of Cubs fans, presumably voters upset over the naming rights proposal, and the prospects for a stadium sale are said to be grim.