CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs said Friday that the team signed a deal with with Anheuser-Busch InBev that could mean the Budweiser logo on a new sign in the right-field at Wrigley Field.
A team official said Anheuser-Busch InBev will be its "exclusive marketing partner" for beer and malt beverages at Wrigley Field. The deal also applies to the Cubs' spring training facility in Mesa Ariz.
Cubs officials said in a news release that the agreement means the team is ending its decades-long marketing relationship with Old Style in 2014, meaning signs touting the beer will be removed.
"This was a very difficult decision following a decades-long relationship we enjoyed with this great brand," the Cubs said of ending its partnership with Old Style. "We will continue to offer Old Style and Old Style Light to our fans for our remaining games."
The sign is part of a $500 million renovation project at the 99-year-old ballpark approved by the city of Chicago, which includes a massive Jumbotron in left field. The rooftop owners, who charge fans to sit on bleachers erected on top of their buildings, argue any sign that would cut into their views threatens the existence of their businesses.
The team previously threatened to put up the right-field sign immediately if disagreements with the rooftop owners weren't settled.
Terms of the deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev weren't disclosed. However, Cubs spokesman Julian Green says the new agreement means the Budweiser sign could go up as early as 2014.
According to Green, announcing the Budweiser deal is not a slap at the rooftop owners, who continue to oppose any signs.
"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."
Old Style has the reputation of being a workingman's brew that has become as much part of the lore at Wrigley Field as bricks, ivy and the billy goat curse blamed for the Cubs' long championship drought. The brew and the Cubs have had a marketing agreement for 62 years.