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Cubs hire Hayward as top sales and marketing executive
Published November 23, 2009
In the first major hire since completing their $845 million purchase of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field last month, the Ricketts family has chosen agency veteran Wally Hayward as the team’s chief sales and marketing officer.
Hayward starts in the newly created position this week and he will be part of the executive management team, responsible for marketing, sponsorship, ticket sales and media relations. He will also be involved with renovations in and around Wrigley Field, a possible spring training site move and a potential bid for the 2014 MLB All-Star Game. He will report to Cubs President Crane Kenney.
Hayward, a Chicago-area native and lifelong Cubs fan who attended his first game “in a stroller,” said he was still formulating an agenda, but, as you’d expect, one item heads the to-do list: “We will break the curse,” he said, referring to the Cubs not winning a World Series since 1908, nor a National League pennant since 1945. “Actually, I don’t believe in curses. Off the field, the question is, ‘What can we do to enhance the experience for our fans, while really weaving in the fabric of our corporate family?’”
Hayward’s hiring fills a vacuum at the Cubs created in 2007 when former President John McDonough and Jay Blunk, former vice president of marketing and broadcasting, defected to the Chicago Blackhawks as president and senior vice president, business operations, respectively. With the Tribune Co. putting the team up for sale, that left Matt Wszolek, the team’s director of sales and promotions, as its top marketer.
Hayward was most recently an adviser to the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid committee, and, in that capacity, he met with the Cubs’ Kenney. That relationship led to Hayward meeting with Tom Ricketts several weeks ago, and eventually to being offered the job.
“If this was just another team job, I wouldn’t be that interested,” he said. “But because of how unique the Cubs and Wrigley are, I was tremendously excited. We can really change the game and create a whole new story for the Cubs’ next 100 years. There are no more-loyal fans.”
He began his career at Lazin Sports Group, then the official agency of the NFL Players Association. He spent 13 years with Bcom3, Starcom MediaVest Group and Leo Burnett, developing an internal sports and event marketing arm. He launched Relay Sports & Event Marketing in 2001 as the dedicated sponsorship and event marketing agency of Publicis Groupe, eventually rising to chairman and CEO of the renamed Relay Worldwide. He left that position in September 2008 after an unsuccessful attempt to buy some or all of Relay from Publicis.