Showing a firm grip on public relations savvy, the current owner of the Cubs, Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell, said this week on CNBC that he plans on trying to sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field.
Zell told the hosts of “Squawk Box” that it’s time to hold the Wrigley Co.’s feet to the fire if it wants to retain the name on the ballpark.
Zell: “As far as Wrigley is concerned, Wrigley is an obvious worldwide icon and Wrigley Field is worldwide known. But in the world of economics, when I bought the Tribune (Co.) I didn’t get a discount because I wasn’t going to use the naming rights that that field represents. Perhaps the Wrigley company will decide that after getting it for free for so long, it’s time to pay for it.“
Zell is in the process of selling the team, so it remains to be seen if he will be able to sell the name of the ballpark before the sale goes through. We can’t imagine that interested parties would regard wrecking the Wrigley Field name as something that would increase the value of the franchise, regardless of the current dollars involved.
Zell isn’t a baseball guy, but the people trying to buy the team are. And you can bet they won’t want him to go through on his threat.
This all sounds more to us like Zell trying to get the Wrigley Co. to pony up something, ANYTHING, for the naming rights. Our guess is that that will happen very soon, so long as Zell’s terms are reasonable.