It’s the end of an era.
As the Cubs eye increased revenue streams and begin the transformation into a 21st century baseball organization, sacrifices will have to be made. On Friday afternoon, we learned just how high the cost of success can be. Beginning in 2014, Old Style beer, which has been served at Wrigley Field for decades, will no longer be offered, thanks to a new deal with Anheuser-Busch.
This exclusive partnership with Anheuser-Busch will make Budweiser one of the most common beers to be served at the Friendly Confines. Furthermore, all existing Old Style signage and ads will be removed from the property. The Budweiser logo will also likely be included on the scoreboard that is due to be constructed as part of the $500-million Wrigley Field renovation project that was announced earlier this summer.
However, it should be noted that the deal does not make Budweiser an exclusive beer to be served at the Friendly Confines. The deal announced is essentially a marketing agreement. This gives Budweiser naming rights throughout the ballpark, and a sign similar to the Toyota sign that currently exists behind the left field bleachers. This new sign will sit counter the existing one in right field.
If you’re silently weeping as you read this, a small sliver of hope remains. Cubs spokesman Julian Green announced that the team and its concession management partner, Levy Restaurants, could chose to continue serving Old Style next season.
According to reports, Old Style has been available to Cubs fans since 1950. The most recent deal between Pabst Brewing Co. was signed in 2011, and ran through this season. More often than not, it has been deemed as critical to the atmosphere at Wrigley Field as the brick walls, covered in ivy and the curse and lore surrounding the Billy Goat. Many fans were outraged when talks went down to the wire in 2011, and backlash could take place with the announcement of the new deal.
“I’m excited as a fan of both organizations that the Old Style tradition at Wrigley Field will continue,” said Cubs owner and board member Todd Ricketts at the time of the Pabst extension in 2011.
So just how excited were you again, Todd?
Apparently, not so excited that money couldn’t persuade him.
With debates between the organization and rooftop owners still remaining heated as the season winds down, some believe the proposed signage behind the right field bleachers is a shot at the owners. The organization has stated the new signage could be installed as early as next spring, in time for the start of the 2014 campaign.
According to the Cubs, it all comes down to increasing revenue streams in hopes of winning a World Series.
“This is the time of year when every baseball team in the league is trying to renew corporate partnerships or go after new partnerships and sell all available assets to raise revenues for their ballclubs,” Green told the Chicago Sun-Times. “This particular deal has absolutely nothing to do with the rooftops, and it has everything to do with us putting as much revenue back into this team to accomplish our goal of winning a world championship.”