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.

Recent comments

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  • azbobbop 12 hours 2 min ago (view)

    Phil, saw Ethan Hearn with a couple of hits today. How has he been trending?


  • tim815 1 day 3 hours ago (view)

    That Kevin Made is already representing offensively seems, on the 1 to 10 scale with 10 being fantastic news, in the 17 or 18 range.

    Nwogu in the 9 to 11 span.


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 20 hours ago (view)

    For those of you wondering about catcher Ronnier Quintero (the Cubs #1 IFA signing in the 2019-20 ISP), he participates fully in pre-game and Camp Day work-outs and he catches bullpens, and while he has been the bullpen catcher at every AZIL game he has not yet played in a game.

    As a catcher he has a lot to learn, and the Cubs would prefer that Quintero mainly concentrates on receiving and learning how to work with pitchers right now. He can learn about hitting and baserunning later. 


  • Arizona Phil 1 day 21 hours ago (view)

    In adition to the 22 pitchers originally on the Cubs AZIL Active List roster plus RHP Manuel Rodriguez (right biceps strain last March) and LHP Brad Wieck (wearing a brace on his left knee) who are on the Cubs MLB 60-day IL and are rehabbing at AZIL, the Cubs have added four additional pitchers to their AZIL Active List roster:  

    RHP Josh Burgmann 
    RHP Chris Clarke 
    LHP D. J. Herz
    RHP Michael McAvene 


  • Charlie 2 days 18 hours ago (view)

    This is weird. He seemed well liked and shifting him to another role would've made just as much sense.


  • bradsbeard 2 days 23 hours ago (view)

    I'd say the only guys who struggled all season were Baez and Bryant. Willson struggled for a lot of August but was one of the few who hit in September. Most of the team hit well in 2019 (including Baez and Bryant before injuries derailed them). I don't know if there's any reason to blame Ipoce in particular for the September slump. 


  • crunch 3 days 13 hours ago (view)

    iapoce expected to stay.  i'm surprised.  i know it's a weird/short season, but it was a season-long slump for a lot of guys and answers weren't showing up.


  • crunch 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    i eagerly await the espn 10 part mini-series "Rafael Palmeiro, More Like Rafael Baseballmerio" covering those 28 legendary games.


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    In fairness those 28 games he played at 1B were breathtaking that year


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    Cubs fire asst. hitting coach Terrmel Sledge. I knew it was his fault!


  • crunch 3 days 14 hours ago (view)

    shout out to 1999 1st base gold glove winner rafael palmeiro.  25 starts (28 games total) at 1st...128 starts at DH.


  • Charlie 4 days 15 hours ago (view)

    Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.


  • crunch 4 days 17 hours ago (view)

    RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists


  • bradsbeard 4 days 21 hours ago (view)

    Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure. 


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 22 hours ago (view)

    There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games. 


  • Arizona Phil 4 days 23 hours ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.

    He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls.