Is Toyota on the horizon in Wrigleyville?

Here at Performance Research, the entire team has been around the country and visited just about any sporting venue you could think of. We could talk for hours about the history of each building and the character that is has developed over the years.

Of course while each stadium, ballpark, coliseum, or garden has a story, certain venues seem to carry a heavier weight due to age or historical significance. One venue that fits into this category would be Wrigley Field in Chicago. While other cities have torn down and rebuilt multiple stadiums, this baseball icon has remained relatively unchanged since the first pitch was thrown there in 1914.

Now while die hards will note the ivy walls lining the outfield or the neighborhood feel of the stadium as the marks of this classic ballpark, others (especially in our industry) focus more on the lack of advertisements. While other venues have sold the vast majority of space to sponsors, Wrigley has had a long standing tradition of not allowing ornate advertisements anywhere within the ballpark. Of course, like many time honored traditions in sports, this may soon come to an end.

As of last October new stadium ownership has been pushing for several changes. Perhaps the most controversial is the potential addition of a bright red 16×22 ft. Toyota sign that would extend above the bleachers. Now while we can imagine a strong resistance from a large amount of loyal Cubs fans, this could possibly be a good move for Toyota.

A common answer when we ask people what they see when looking at advertisements in a stadium is “clutter”. This response is obviously a result of the massive sea of banners and neon lights that line almost every visible space at most major sporting events. Now while Toyota and the Cubs are both taking away a certain part of the Wrigley culture, they could also be erecting a new icon for the ballpark. If Toyota has the ability to maintain their spot in the outfield as a large stand alone, this is when the sign can be truly beneficial. Not only would the sign be more noticeable standing by itself, over years it has the chance to become part of the architectural landscape of Wrigley.

If you question the ability of advertisements to affect fans, than look no further than the oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, Fenway Park in Boston. Above the famed Green Monster left field wall you will see the towering CITGO gasoline sign. This sign has been in place since 1965, and as one Boston fan recently stated, “If you don’t know about the CITGO sign, then you don’t know about the Red Sox”.

You can bet that the Japanese auto maker would be hoping for a similar type of brand association at Wrigley. We’ll just have to wait a few years to see if it works out.

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