Wrigley field might get a new name. In this era of corporate inundation, where ads are plastered on our walls, buses, subways, and yes, stadiums; and amidst the furor, and anger, and cries of “Landmark!” throughout Cubs fandom, has everyone forgotten that Wrigley Field is already named for a corporation? Sure, it happened to be the last name of the family that owned the franchise and the stadium for the better part of century, but does that really make a difference?
I think so. When such an iconic landmark as Wrigley Field has stood the test of time, it weaves itself into the consciousness of the community, the city, and even the nation at large. It becomes more than a mere corporate sponsorship - especially when the name of the corporation is as unassuming as Wrigley. (Perhaps I might feel differently if Wrigley Field had been called “Time-Warner Park” since before my father was born. I tend to think so, but that straw man isn’t worth slaying here.)
Unfortunately, the decision ultimately rests with the ego-maniac billionaire who owns it all. His position is that he can do as he pleases, and he’s right. Fortunately for the fans, Chicagoans have shown a penchant for disowning entities who over-zealously seek their profit at the expense of the city’s history. Take, for example, the famous Marshall Fields on State Street. When Macy’s bought the company, they exercised their right to change the names of the stores. But when they changed the name of the iconic, anchor store in the loop, citizens revolted. The city’s store, that had risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire, suddenly lost 35% of its business almost overnight. There are still ongoing protest groups successfully encouraging boycotting of the store. And the stupid thing is that Macy’s could have avoided all of this by simply leaving the name on only that one store! They could have even called it “Marshall Fields on State Street by Macy’s”, and people wouldn’t have cared.
The owner of Wrigley Field - and especially the sponsor supplanting the name - might find themselves facing similar situations if they go that route. Already, advertising experts are predicting a “tricky deal” at best for the field’s naming rights. One thing is for certain: If such a deal did go through, the lucky recipients will face a backlash not just in Chicago, but around the entire nation. No fans are as widespread and protective of their team as Cubs fans.
After all, we haven’t won a World Series in 100 years. We’ve got to have something to hang on to!