Published on March 17, 2010 4:02 PM
By Ameet Sachdev | The Chicago Cubs are finalizing a sponsorship agreement with Toyota and its Chicago area dealers that would display a giant logo of the Japanese car company over the left-field bleachers.
Wally Hayward, the team’s chief sales and marketing officer, said negotiations for a multi-year agreement are ongoing but could be completed by the close of business Wednesday.
He provided the Chicago Tribune with a rendering of the proposed signage that shows Toyota’s familiar red logo above the carmaker’s name in block letters. The entire sign would be backlit.
“We tried to design a look and feel that would fit with the aesthetic of Wrigley Field,” Hayward said. “It’s not a big, black billboard that you would typically see at other ballparks.”
He declined to discuss the value of the advertising deal but he said the revenue would help the team as well as assist the new ownership renovate Wrigley Field. The Ricketts family paid about $800 million to buy the team and its historic stadium in October from Tribune Co., parent of the Chicago Tribune.
“We’re looking at new ways to generate sponsorship revenues to help the ballclub be competitive and also maintain the character of Wrigley Field,” Hayward said.
Because of the landmark-status of Wrigley Field, the proposed signage would need the approval of the City of Chicago. The proposed sign would be 360 square feet and rise 38 feet above the bleachers, Hayward said.
The Sun-Times first reported that the Cubs have filed a permit application with the city.
While the city has approved signage on the outfield walls and on the brick wall down the third base line, the proposed billboard is “definitely new territory,” said Ald. Tom Tunney (44th ward), who oversees the ward where Wrigley Field is located.
The height of the signage will be a concern, he said. Tunney wants to make sure the proposed billboard will not block fans’ views of the surrounding neighborhood.
The Cubs have been considering adding signage behind the bleachers for some time. The first hint came after the 2009 season ended when the team erected blank green signs in left-center field.
Cubs President Crane Kenney said left-center field is the only place in the bleachers the team can place a billboard without blocking the views of rooftops from which fans watch games. The Cubs have long-term revenue-sharing agreements with rooftop owners.
In addition to generating revenue, the proposed billboard would give the team another benefit. It would partially block a Horseshoe Casino advertisement on the roof of a building across the street, which is visible to fans in the Wrigley Field and also during television broadcasts. The Cubs do no receive any revenues from Horseshoe ad.
Yet Kenney insisted that blocking a competing sign is not the point of the location of the proposed billboard.
The Cubs may have waited too long to file its permit application to get billboard approved by the start of the 2010 baseball season next month.
Given the various administrative reviews required, it will be difficult for the permit to be approved within a month, Tunney said.
Tribune reporter Paul Sullivan contributed to this report