Selling Naming Rights to Wrigley would add $4.5m in annual payroll

Selling the naming Rights to Wrigley Field would add $4.5m in payroll.  I provide this fact as a data point for any holiday discussions you find yourselves in.

recently asked its readers if the Cubs should sell the naming rights to Wrigley Field. The post framed the question by asking if ‘losing’ the Wrigley name, and its history, is worth “$10 million annually, and a slightly better bullpen each year [or] $20 million annually, and the ability to always go after the best free agent pitcher on the market?” I disliked this question because the data exists to reliably predict the actual dollar amount payroll would increase. Providing this dollar value allows the argument to be less abstract. So as a public service, I calculate that selling the naming rights to Wrigley Field would add $4.5m in annual payroll. I estimate this on the following evidence and assumptions. Be warned, there is math ahead.


Wrigley Naming Rights: How Much are they Worth?

Twenty MLB fields having naming rights deals today. The of those deals are available for seventeen. Table 1 below shows the annual value of those deals. The average naming deal pays $4.4m annually. The value of naming rights are climbing, however, as the six most recent deals average $7.8m annually.

Table 1: Stadium Naming Deals


 Annual $

Year signed


 $      10,000,000


White Sox

 $        2,000,000



 $        5,000,000



 $        6,000,000



 $        3,600,000



 $      20,000,000



 $        3,800,000



 $        2,500,000



 $        2,730,000



 $        6,360,000



 $        2,200,000



 $        2,000,000



 $        2,000,000



 $        2,000,000



 $        2,200,000



 $        2,000,000



 $        1,000,000


The naming rights for Wrigley would presumably exceed that of the $10m for the Braves new stadium, Suntrust Park. Chicago is a larger media market and the Cubs are (currently) more popular than the Braves. Plus, ownership would never incur the blowback of renaming Wrigley for anything less than top dollar. So at minimum the Cubs would insist on several million dollars more than Atlanta’s deal. The largest current deal is the $20m annual deal the Mets made with Citibank, in the larger NY media market. We would expect a deal in Chicago to be smaller than New York. On the other hand, the Mets deal is seven years old, suggesting the Mets could get more today. So I estimate the upper bound of a Wrigley deal at $20m. By coincidence, in 2012, industry sources estimated the value of selling the naming rights to Wrigley Field between annually. Thus, I feel confident that the Cubs would get $15-20m to rename Wrigley. Let’s suppose the Cubs get top dollar, $20m, and continue this exercise.


How Much of that $20m Would Go Towards Payroll?

Selling the naming rights creates a new $20m annual revenue stream, but payroll would not instantly increase by the same amount. For starters, the Cubs will have to contribute a chunk of that money to revenue sharing. I previously the Cubs only keep 89% of their baseball income after revenue sharing. So that $20m get reduced to $17.8m immediately. Also, the Cubs, like most baseball teams, typically only spend of their revenue on payroll. That leaves $8.9m in potential payroll.

Then comes the luxury tax, aka the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT), which charges teams a hefty penalty for having payrolls above a preset limit. The Cubs already have the revenue to spend beyond the luxury cap, and did so in . Since then they have added . So every dollar the Cubs add in payroll from renaming Wrigley would actually be spent above the luxury cap. That means the Cubs need to budget some of the $8.9 to pay luxury tax.


Paying the Luxury Tax

In the original Bleacher Nation post, the premise was that the Wrigley naming money would be used every year. The post also implied that the money would be used on top of all other Cubs revenue. So under the scenario set forth in the original post, the Cubs would be paying the Luxury tax every year. The luxury tax charges teams differing surcharges based on different factors. Table 2 below summarizes these factors.

Table 2: CBT Penalty System

$ over Cap

1st Year Penalty

2nd Yr

3rd Yr













If the Cubs signed a naming rights deal today, and started spending it all, the Cubs would be paying the luxury tax every year. By 2020, they would be in the 3rd year column, and remain there in perpetuity. Also, by 2020 my show the Cubs will have the revenue to spend $40m over the cap. So in the long term, every dollar earned from Wrigley naming rights will be taxed at 95%. In effect, the Cubs will need to budget $2 for every dollar of salary they add. Thus, the $8.9m now turns into only $4.5m in new payroll. The other $4.4 gets budgeted to pay the resulting luxury tax.


Renaming Wrigley to Pay for Its Renovations

Before ending this post, I want to address an interesting side argument that popped up in the comments section on Bleacher nation. A few commentators argued that the Ricketts were entitled to sell Wrigley naming rights to help pay for the renovations to the stadium. This is an interesting, and potentially valid, opinion. Yet I do not personally agree. The Ricketts privately paid for the $700m Wrigley renovations by (at a hefty profit) and through several large corporate sponsorship deals (like the Budweiser Bleachers). The renovations also provide large permanent cash streams; like the jumbotron, new bullpen seating area, and premium clubs. So I would argue that the $700m has already been raised. The Cubs do not need to rename Wrigley to pay off their debts.


No way. The Rickets will be getting the highest tax break. Thanks trump.

those of us without kids are rather unimpressed...well, those of us without kids who are not making big loot. it's not that i'm upset about them getting a big aren't cheap and rarely produce income...a healthy society generally tries to subsidize their existence...etc. my household isn't going to see a lot of benefit, though. ...anyways... i can't imagine the ricketts want to chase money to the point of trying to rename the place. down-arrow ballpark across town isn't that great. sure, they'd still sell tickets, but it's not a good look. btw, a park in illinois did get renemed today:

Harper would have to change his dog's name, or go to a different team.

So, I guess Jed's "everybody wants to know where they are playing by Christmas" theory is in jeopardy at this point.

If you believe the Darvish reports over the last couple days that it's likely to be a decision between the Cubs and Astros and that Darvish is getting advice from Jon Daniels without the presence of Darvish's agent, I'd say that portends very, very well for the Cubs.

Darvish seems like a safer bet than Jake. Never did like seeing Arrieta's velo drop nearly 3mph in one year. And Cobb seems waaaay overrated.

Boring damn it. Give us some info AZ. Phil.

File under blast from the past...Mike Olt re-signs w Redsox, spent last yr at AA Portland Maine.

be careful not to burn yourself on that hot stove.

cubs have signed kyle ryan...probably a minor league deal...hopefully a minor league deal. not official yet. fastball/cutter...change and curve in minor-use.

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  • crunch 6 hours 17 min ago (view)

    "MLB will hold its first-ever pre-draft combine from June 20-28 in Cary, North Carolina.

    The combine will take place at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, with top draft-eligible college and high school players invited. As part of the combine, the top-88 prep players will take part in a tournament through June 26th consisting of eight games."


  • crunch 7 hours 41 min ago (view)

    cactus league officials are requesting MLB delay spring training because of elevated COVID cases + deaths.

    their summer peak was 70-80 deaths a week and they're currently at 140-160 deaths a week.

    things should be trending down now that most of people that wanted to kill relatives in order to have turkey dinners in NOV/DEC seems to have peaked.


  • Hagsag 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    $$$$ for trump's defense fund.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 4 hours ago (view)

    But they got $600 a few months back. Each! That was an unexpected windfall.

    Can't wait to see us acquire a 17 year old, 16 year old, 11 year old (all in the 15-30 range of Blue Jays prospects) and one of the shitty Jays surplus OFs. Randal Grichuk jerseys will be the new hot item among Cubs fans.


  • crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    things are a little tight, we have to be patient with the ricketts family finances.

    when TD Ameritrade was fully/completely sold in october they expected to get 26 billion dollars of value on the transaction, but it only got 22 billion dollars.  the massive slew of millions that didn't fully come to realization on the ricketts side of that sale stings.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 5 hours ago (view)

    Trade Hendricks? Cant be true. We're "going to be competitive this year."

    Sell the team, Ricketts family.


  • crunch 1 day 6 hours ago (view)

    "Scott Mitchell of TSN reports that the Blue Jays have discussed a potential trade with the Cubs involving Kris Bryant and Kyle Hendricks.

    Mitchell was responding to a question on Twitter asking whether there was any truth to the rumor that the Jays had talked with the Cubs about a deal for both players, and he answered in the affirmative."

    this timeline sucks.


  • bradsbeard 2 days 10 hours ago (view)

    International Scouting Director Louie Eljaua was just on The Score and he mentioned that COVID is causing issues with completing physicals and officially signing guys, but he said they have 24 guys unufficially signed right now.


  • KingKongvsGodzilla 2 days 11 hours ago (view)

    These guys are a year apart in age and Miller's easily had the stronger career to date. While I'm not big on Miller, much prefer his more standard injury (TJ) than whatever it is that sapped Foltynewicz's velocity. Folty without velocity just isn't interesting and is likely a much bigger injury risk


  • Cubster 2 days 11 hours ago (view)

    from an article by Jordan Bastian...excerpt on Cubs free agent starting pitching options:

    "Still, the Cubs need some more experienced Major League innings.

    Given the way the offseason has played out for the North Siders, free-agent possibilities could include Chris Archer. Archer missed all of 2020 due to thoracic outlet syndrome, but he hopes to be ready to go by Spring Training. Free agents Mike Foltynewicz, Carlos Rodón, Rick Porcello and Trevor Williams are coming off forgettable '20 seasons but might benefit from the Cubs' analytics team.


  • Charlie 3 days 5 hours ago (view)

    At this rate, they will need 11 starters in 2021 but like 6 of them will be more or less Alec Mills. The defense will get plenty of practice, at least.


  • crunch 3 days 8 hours ago (view)

    i wouldn't be surprised to see jake arrieta come on board since no one else seems to want him and he'll probably have to take a 1yr deal...


  • crunch 3 days 8 hours ago (view)

    cubs get their backup catcher...hopefully not their main catcher...

    austin romine 1yr/1.5m


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 9 hours ago (view)

    Look no further than Shelby Miller!


  • crunch 3 days 10 hours ago (view)

    hank aaron has died.  passed away in his sleep.

    we've lost a lot of HOF'rs and other notables in the past many months.


  • Hagsag 3 days 15 hours ago (view)

    The Cubs are now the "Little Sisters of the Poor".