Zell is under heavy fire for his revenue-generating plans to add more night games and concerts to Wrigley Field's schedule. But his plan to sell naming rights to the stadium that is home of the Chicago Cubs, has been met with angst and outrage from Chicagoans and baseball fans across the nation.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin thinks Zell is the embodiment of Dr. Seuss' Sam-I-Am (Green Eggs and Ham): "Though Seuss' Green Eggs and Ham was written in 1960, the brilliant children's author apparently could see into the future. He must have had a premonition about what was going to happen in Chicago. That a billionaire named Sam-I-am Zell -- who lives in a Grinch perch high atop Michigan Avenue -- would look down one day at this great city on the lake and say to himself, "Hey, I think I'll buy it." Piece by piece. Including the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs. Wrigley Field."
But not everyone thinks selling the Cubs, the field or the naming rights to the Chicago landmark is such a bad idea. Baltimore Sun sports blogger Bill Ordine points out: "The responsibility is not Zell's or that of Tribune employees across the country to preserve Chicago baseball tradition. The Wrigley company, which is based in Chicago, has been getting that free ride for a long time."
Zell's main responsibility here is to the Tribune company as a whole, its employees and customers, in making a tough business deal work. Like newspapers all over the country, Tribune properties have been downsizing -- and not just reporters and editors but advertising, circulation and business-side people. White-collar jobs, blue-collar jobs, in big cities, medium-sized cities and small towns, are on the line.We're with you, Bill!