You know how those buildings over the left field bleachers at Wrigley have ads and stuff on them? Well, the Cubs don’t like it all that much. At least when the ads are for casinos:
The Cubs have fired the opening salvo in a dispute against a local casino, erecting two signboards in the back of the left-field bleachers, which would obscure a prominent casino ad in most television shots during game telecasts.
The two large green wooden signboards were erected in the bleachers last week without fanfare. There currently is no advertising on them, but they’re expected to be ready for the 2010 season.
For years that rooftop was home to a prominent Budweiser ad. Budweiser eliminated the middle man back in 2006 and now owns naming rights to the bleachers, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume that Bud ads will show up on those boards. It’s unclear whether the board will actually block the view of fans who sit on the rooftops.
I suppose some Wrigley traditionalists may complain about this, but it’s been many, many years since the buildings across Waveland Avenue were owned by simple folk and home to common neighborhood gawkers. Those buildings and the ads, seats and parties on them are big business now, and that business is all essentially riding for free on the back of the Cubs.
The Ricketts family didn’t become billionaires by leaving money on the table, so it’s not surprising in the least that they’re going to do what they can to capture this kind of revenue going forward.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.