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Cubs Want Lighted "Billboard" At Wrigley

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on Mar 18, 2010 2:20PM

A rendering of the proposed Toyota sign at Wrigley Field; Photo courtesy the Cubs, via the Tribune

The Cubs aren't asking for a jumbotron but they are asking permission to put in what's being called a "lighted billboard" above left field. The team has reportedly made a deal with automaker Toyota to sponsor the sign, which would be a 16-by-22-foot Toyota logo and could net the team as much as $2.5 million per year. Wally Hayward, Cubs executive vice-president for sales and marketing, told reporters yesterday:

We are at a big competitive disadvantage if we cannot generate incremental sponsorship revenue in a tasteful manner that helps preserve Wrigley Field. We’re not looking to add a whole wall of signage out there like other stadiums across the country...We worked to create a sign and logo that would fit into the fabric of Wrigley Field.”

The sign would extend from the left field bleachers and only partially obscure the Horseshoe Casino rooftop ad, not affecting any rooftop seats. Even once the deal is done, though, the team will need approval from the city's Department of Zoning and Land-use Planning and Commission on Chicago Landmarks. But the deal isn't without its opponents. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has voiced concern about the sign's "visual impact…on the historic character of the ballpark."

Given that the sign would be in front of the rooftop that, for years, featured the large Budweiser ad and now features an ad for a casino, the idea of the ad doesn't really seem to be that big of a deal, especially if it can generate revenue to help pay for things like Soriano's contract. The aesthetics, though, of one random Toyota logo sticking up out of left field - while not as garish as a jumbotron - seems awkward. The best case scenario is that as it generates revenue, it'll blend right in and become part of the game as players try to bang home runs off of it in batting practice and it becomes something akin to Wrigley's version of Fenway's Citgo sign.