It’s true – the Ricketts family that bought the ball club from the Tribune Co. several years ago needed to come up with the cash somehow to do that bleacher remodeling at Wrigley Field. Their way of financing was to sell a portion of the ball club to outside interests.
ESPN REPORTED THAT the DeVos family is among six new investors who collectively now own about 10 percent of the Cubs – meaning the Ricketts family is still solidly in control of the baseball activity at Clark and Addison streets.
But their money accounts for the $375 million being spent on the construction work taking place this winter at Wrigley Field for the remodeling that is meant to give the 101-year-old stadium touches of 21st Century modernity – particularly ones that the Cubs can use to squeeze money from corporate interests, thereby boosting the team’s profitability.
Now I realize it isn’t unusual for sports franchises to have multiple owners, and people whose percent or two of a ball club gives them the bragging rights, so to speak, of saying it’s their team – even though they don’t really have the authority to fire a hot dog vendor who can’t wash his hands properly prior to doing his job.
If I recall correctly, long-time Chicago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf only owns a miniscule share of the team – but has control because all the minority partners support him.
WHEREAS THE RICKETTS family members are still fully in control of the Cubs, and are to blame for anything that goes wrong with the ball club.
But it does create potential for comic relief to have the Amway people involved, since the very concept of “Amway products” (assorted cleaning and beauty supplies that people sell to try to earn extra money for themselves) is often good for a punch line.
I remember the one time someone tried to get me involved with Amway – a former college classmate of mine managed to supplement his income with them, and he was trying to get me into the idea of selling such products.
Because Amway’s concept of people creating their own “business” means they get a portion of the sales made by anyone whom they recruit into the scheme. On a certain level, it seems like a giant pyramid scheme. Although I’m presuming that since Amway has not been indicted by the feds, they’re managing to follow the letter of the law.
BUT DOES THIS mean that fans can now get some sort of bonus if they manage to entice other people to actually go to Cubs games, thereby boosting team attendance regardless of whether or not the ball club actually lives up to all the promise we’re hearing about all the hot prospects the team supposedly now has?
Could we get concession stands at the ball park offering up Amway products?
Heck, will we literally get the Amway Co. someday buying the naming rights to the structure known for many decades as Wrigley Field (promoting the chewing gum)?
Amway Field? Is it any more ridiculous than United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls. I’m sure the very thought would wind up being the punch line for many a joke told by the U.S. Cellular Field crowd in the future.
SPEAKING OF PRO basketball, the DeVos family is primary owner of the Orlando Magic, which plays its games in a structure known as Amway Center.
So for those of you Cubs fans who are now thinking to yourself that I’m being ridiculous, absurd and a downright fool for suggesting something that could never happen, keep in mind that in business just about anything can happen if it has potential to bring in more revenue.
Of course, there is the ultimate question – should we now regard Chicago Cubs baseball itself to be an Amway product?
One that at least a few Chicagoans would probably react to in the same way whenever they are offered a chance to buy Amway-brand cleaning solutions – slamming that wallet or purse shut tight!