Cubs

How much for Wrigley Field's naming rights?

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How much for Wrigley Field's naming rights?

How much money are the Cubs leaving on the table by not renaming Wrigley Field?

That question was posed following today's announcement from the Chicago White Sox and U.S. Cellular that, while U.S. Cellular is selling its Chicago, St. Louis and central Illinois markets for a reported $480 million to SprintNextel, "U.S. Cellular Field" will remain unchanged. The White Sox signed the original deal with U.S. Cellular in 2003 for 68 million over 20 years, with the agreement paying the White Sox $3.4 million per season for the stadium's name, as well as an agreement to purchase significant advertising with the White Sox each season as a corporate sponsor?

So what about the stadium on the North Side?

Industry sources I spoke with all seem to believe that if a deal were to be completed to change the name it could generate $15-20 million a year, but they all cautioned that it comes with significant risk for the company that puts up the tremendous amount of money that it would take to reach an agreement.

"I can see the Cubs selling a secondary naming rights opportunity or perhaps naming each individual gate entrance to the stadium like the Yankees did. Something like Wrigley Field at 'XYZ park' would work, but the Cubs attract fans who want the Wrigley Field experience and if you change the name and you put in a Jumbotron, etc., how much does it change the experience of going to Wrigley Field, which is one of the last true old-time experiences in sports?" Jon Greenberg said.

One highly placed source who is a former owner who spoke to me on a condition of anonymity estimated that the Cubs are leaving an incredible amount of money on the table by staying at Wrigley Field and not selling naming rights to the stadium.

"There is no doubt in my mind that if the Cubs were willing to leave Wrigley Field and build a state-of-the-art stadium with all of the amenities that fans have come to expect these days, they would be able to make a deal in the range of $20-25 million per year," he said. "However, if I was running a major corporation and I was asked to buy the naming rights to a renovated Wrigley, I would not touch that deal because of the potential for negative backlash from the Cubs' huge fan base who have known that ballpark as Wrigley Field Field for nearly 100 years."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Will the next 12 games determine the Cubs season?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Will the next 12 games determine the Cubs season?

On this edition of the Sports Talk Live podcast, David Kaplan is joined by Hub Arkush, Mike Esposito and Jason Goch. The guys discuss whether or not the next 12 games will determine the Cubs season. (1:30) Plus how concerned should Cubs fans be with Cole Hamels? (4:15) And the panel discusses who would be the odd man out of the Cubs playoff rotation. (5:20) Plus would you choose to re-sign Nicholas Castellanos over another star? (8:00) Kyle Long apologizes for getting kicked out of practice last week. (11:45) The guys weigh in on the new trend of NFL players not playing at all in the preseason. (13:00) Plus the guys discuss an unlikely candidate to solve the Bears kicking issues. (15:30) Can Joakim Noah coexist with Lebron James? (16:30) The panel discuss whether or not the White Sox should bring back Ivan Nova next season and where does Jose Abreu fit in the rebuilding plans. (18:45) And Sox skipper Rick Renteria gives a strong response to all his social media critics. (20:40)

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs lay out next installment of the plan for Ben Zobrist

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USA TODAY

Cubs lay out next installment of the plan for Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist will see more action on the minor-league fields this weekend.

The Cubs announced Tuesday evening the veteran switch-hitter will play for Double-A Tennessee Thursday night in Jackson, Tenn. Then, Zobrist would head back to Iowa where he will play with the Cubs' Triple-A team Friday and Saturday (the Iowa Cubs have a day game Thursday). 

By the time Zobrist is done with his game on Saturday, that could be the one-week mark of his return to the big leagues. If he's activated off the restricted list by the end of the day on Saturday, Aug. 31, he would be eligible for the postseason.

In nine games with Iowa, Advanced Class-A Myrtle Beach and Class-A South Bend over the last couple weekends, Zobrist is hitting .222/.344/.481, good for an .825 OPS with 2 homers and 4 RBI. 

When Zobrist returns, he figures to slot in part-time at second base, as the Cubs already have a pretty stable outfield trio of Jason Heyward-Nicholas Castellanos-Kyle Schwarber.

It remains to be seen whether Joe Maddon will insert Zobrist into the leadoff spot when the veteran switch-hitter is in the lineup, but either way, he could present a nice boost for the team ahead of the stretch run, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

"I've never played with Ben, but I've heard that he's an incredible guy and an even better teammate," said Castellanos, who gave the Cubs an early lead Tuesday night with another first-inning homer.

Zobrist's timeline could coincide nicely for the Cubs since catcher Willson Contreras is projected back in early September. The bullpen is back at full strength once again with Steve Cishek activated off the IL Tuesday and Brandon Kintzler and Craig Kimbrel returning on the recent road trip.

But a lot can happen in the next two weeks and Zobrist still has a couple boxes to check before the Cubs can count on him for the final month of the season.