Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Stop Slamming Sam

Hi All,

As I was searching newspapers, magazines, websites, and blogs looking for interesting stories to share with you on Broadcast Union News, I kept running across article after article slamming Sam Zell for putting the naming rights of Wrigley Field up for sale. So I cobbled together some thoughts from various sources on this subject.

On one hand, Chicago mayor Richard Daley declared in December 2001 that a renovated Soldier Field would never be called anything else. Just last week, Yankees president Randy Levine vowed the same.

"The Yankee Stadium name is sacred,'' he said about the new ballpark scheduled to open next year. "Yankee Stadium is the cathedral of baseball and would be unseemly for a naming rights deal.''

On the other hand, Historically, Wrigley Field is a commercial promotion after all. Originally named Weeghman Park, chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. took over control of the club in 1927 and couldn't resist the commercial tie-in for his business.

The NFL's Buffalo Bills took $1.5 million from Rich Foods back in 1973 to put their company's name on their stadium for 25 years.

Today, the N.Y. Mets will get $20 million a year for 20 years to call their new ballpark Citi Field.

There are more than 60 major league stadiums wearing the names of companies who ponied up a collective $3.4 billion for naming rights.

According to Jim Litke, a national sports columnist for The Associated Press, the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston has had 34 different names since plans were announced to replace the original Garden some 15 years ago, in part because the naming-rights were auctioned off daily for a while on eBay.

For two days, in fact, the official name of the joint was "Yankees Suck Center,'' which, if nothing else, is easy to remember.

So cut Sam some slack here, at least he hasn't changed the name to "Zell Stadium". Then to watch the Cubs you'd have to just go to Zell.

Perhaps we should look past small picture minutia like the Wrigley Field naming-rights debacle and focus on important issues like whether or not we'll still have jobs at Tribune in six months.

What do you guys think?

All the best,

Bob D

Two Views of Sam Zell

Media Bistro


Sports Illustrated Thinks He's Stupid: ... for considering selling out the name of Wrigley Field.

We Think He's Damn Smart: Sam Zell, now Tribune Co. chairman and CEO could join the board of directors of The Associated Press in April.


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