CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs owe much of their identity to two things — their 101-year drought without a World Series title and Wrigley Field.
The team’s new owners are working with automaker Toyota on a sponsorship deal that could put the company’s logo on a sign hoisted high above the left field bleachers in time for the home opener next month.
It’s a way to increase revenue for the Cubs. It could also make baseball purists cringe.
“I’ve been here four months. I’ve been a lifelong Cubs fan and any time you do anything here at Wrigley Field, it gets attention,” said Wally Hayward, who took over in November as the Cubs’ vice-president and chief sales and marketing officer.
The red-coloured 16-by-22-foot Toyota sign would rise above the bleachers and, according to a rendition provided by the Cubs, would partially block a sign for a casino on a roof across the street.
Built in 1914 and home to the Cubs since 1916, Wrigley Field is the second-oldest major league stadium, trailing only Boston’s Fenway Park (1912). The park has undergone changes over the years, some more subtle than others. Lights were finally added in 1988, there was a bleacher expansion after the 2005 season and signs have popped on the outfield walls and on a board behind home plate.