SBJ/January 24 - 30, 2005/Marketingsponsorship

Cubs join Wilson to entice fans with a touch of leather

The Chicago Cubs have entered into an exclusive partnership with Wilson Sporting Goods Co. that will give hundreds of fans a chance to take home authentic gloves from several eras in club history.

On each of four home dates during the 2005 season, the Cubs will hand out 20,000 scratch-and-win cards at the gate, and gloves will be given to the holders of 100 winning cards as well as one randomly selected fan per inning. The promotion features Ernie Banks’ 1963 Wilson A2000 glove model on April 24, a Kerry Wood Wilson A3000 glove on May 20, a Ron Santo 1962 A2000 glove on July 17 and a Greg Maddux 300 Wins Wilson A2000 Limited Edition glove on Aug. 22.

Cubs vice president of marketing and broadcasting John McDonough hatched the promotional idea last May, and he called Wilson executives to see if they still had their old glove patterns and the wherewithal to re-create them. Brian Sullivano, Wilson’s business manager for baseball gloves, called McDonough back with the go-ahead about six weeks later.

The Cubs will give away glove models favord by Kerry Wood (top) and Greg Maddux to dozens of fans at selected home games this year.

“It was a unique challenge,” Sullivano said of making the Banks and Santo gloves given the changes in glove molds and materials through the years. “It was a lot of fun to try to rebuild them.”

The Cubs’ deal with Wilson is exclusive for 2005. After that, Wilson can partner with other MLB clubs on similar promotions. The Cubs paid Wilson an undisclosed amount of money to have the gloves made, but the team already has a sponsor for each of the giveaway dates. MBNA will sponsor the Banks glove giveaway, Harris Bank the Wood giveaway, Chevrolet the Santo giveaway and Pepsi the Maddux giveaway.

Team officials declined to comment on any financial details of the deal, including what, if any, arrangements were made with the four participating players.

The promotion comes a year after the Cubs signed an exclusive deal with Mitchell & Ness to produce authentic jerseys for a 12-date premium giveaway. That idea immediately attracted attention from other pro teams. This year, Mitchell & Ness is partnering with the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers on similar giveaways, said Joanne Graham, M&N’s director of team development.

The Cubs will continue their Mitchell & Ness partnership this season with 10 more jersey giveaways, highlighted by their Aug. 14 game, when 100 fans will receive jerseys in the style of the 1984 road jersey of longtime Cubs star and newly elected hall of famer Ryne Sandberg.

McDonough said tapping and preserving the Cubs’ rich history is particularly important at a time when the organization and Wrigley Field are being forced to adapt. One year after installing about 1,000 square feet of new video scoreboards and 200 new premium seats, the Cubs this season will install a rotational sign behind home plate that will generate $4 million to $5 million in new revenue.

“It’s incumbent upon all of us to be as creative as we can,” McDonough said.

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