Tribune Co. CEO Sam Zell said Tuesday he won't hesitate to sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field -- even if baseball purists don't like the idea.
"Wrigley is an obvious world-wide icon and Wrigley Field is world-wide known. But, in the world of economics, when I bought the Tribune, I didn't get a discount because I wasn't going to use the naming rights that field represents," Zell said in an interview on the CNBC program "Squawk Box."
"Perhaps the Wrigley Co. will decide that, after getting it for free for so long, that it's time to pay for it."
Actually, going after the Wrigley Co. for the rights is probably the only smart play here. Any other company would have to know that changing the name of the building at 1060 W. Addison would bring nothing but bad publicity, wouldn't they? I predict boycotts of whatever product's or company's name is slapped on the building. Sure, the boycotts wouldn't amount to much in and of themselves -- they never do -- but the press would eat it up. Knowing all of this, even if Zell could get someone to bite, won't there have to be a tremendous discount in the value of those naming rights?
If you're the Wrigley Co., you might very well feel that you're the target of a shakedown right now. And maybe you are. Still, there are ways to deal with it. BTF poster Adam G has a clever, albeit cynical, idea to lessen the blow:
[I]f I was the Wrigley Co., I would be all over using this for a marketing campaign. For example, they come out with a Special Line of Chewing Gum where 5 cents out of every sale goes towards the "naming rights fund" or the "save Wrigley field fund". The company will match every sale dollar for dollar. They would gain enormous good will with the community, sell many many additional packs of gum, and essentially end up buying the naming rights for half price because the public would be paying half
I like the cut of that man's jib. Cut his hair, fit him for a pinstripe suit and have him at a desk in the boiler room after lunch!