No Dice, Cubs Tell Casino

New billboards at Wrigley block casino rooftop ad

By Matt Bartosik
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 1:52 PM CDT
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Aww, craps!

That's what the Horseshoe Casino must be thinking after they ponied up for a rooftop ad across from Wrigley Field and the Cubs blocked it. 

The Cubs organization built two sign boards in the back of Wrigley Field's left-field bleachers, obscuring the casino's rooftop ad from television cameras that cover games.

Cubs fans are familiar with the prominent red Budweiser ad that sat on a rooftop behind left field. In fact, the ad had been there for so long, the building was often referred to as the "Budweiser building."

But in 2008, Tom Gramatis bought the building and put a large tarp over the beer advertisement, saying that Anheuser-Busch was late on its payment. The company denied this claim, and a judge ordered the tarp's removal.

In any event, Anheuser-Busch decided to stop paying for the ad space because the beer company "continued to have a strong presence in the stadium without it, and because the building owner's asking price 'far exceeded' what A-B was willing to pay for it. [Keith Levy, vice president of marketing,] declined to specify the dollar amount," reported the St. Louis Business Journal.

Gramatis eventually sold the advertising rights to Horseshoe Casino.

While the Cubs get plenty of revenue from Budweiser inside Wrigley regardless of the ad, they aren't getting any money from Horseshoe for that prime advertising location.

Since he couldn't do anything about the ad itself, new chairman Tom Ricketts decided to do the next best thing. Two large green wooden signboards were erected without notice last week, obscuring the ad from television shots.

"The signage is in place as we evaluate marketing opportunities," Cubs spokesman Peter Chase said, never mentioning Horseshoe specifically. "Given our partnerships and agreements with the other rooftops, that particular location in the bleachers would work out."

The signboards are currently bare, but they will likely soon carry the advertisements of paying sponsors.

The Cubs are "looking to protect our corporate partner family who invest their resources with us to be our official sponsors. It's important that we protect our brand in the marketplace, protect the value of our corporate partners, and protect against anyone trying to ambush our brand," said Chase.

So, throwing your money away on over-priced beer is more brand-friendly than throwing your money away on gambling. Got it.

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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