Cubs Inside Pitch: Dec. 6

Wrigley Field has been ad-free for many years until only recently, when the club installed signs in the upper deck featuring ads and related information, including pitch speeds.

This offseason, however, the Cubs are close to gaining approval for a 10x3 ft. rotating sign that would be more noticeable, right behind home plate. Since all of the Cubs' games are televised, officials believe they could make between an additional $3 1/2-5 million in 2005 with the sign.

Last season, the Cubs were able to sign Greg Maddux to a multi-year deal thanks in part to additional revenue generated by a financial agreement with rooftop owners across the street from the park. The Cubs also earned extra money with added premium seats behind home plate.

"It's an additional revenue stream," Cubs vice president of marketing and broadcasting John McDonough said of the sign behind home plate.

"We've had an agreement to expand the seats behind home plate and with the rooftop owners, and have added signs (in the left and right field upper decks) -- we're in the winning business.

"In a perfect world, if you want a pristine ballpark, that would be great. Unfortunately, that's not reality. The money generated from all of this is going into the payroll. And it has been deployed extremely well."

The organization is also planning to add 80 premium seats in 2005 and is mulling the opportunity to host a big-name concert at the park.

All of that could bring in enough money where the Cubs might become serious players in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. While the Cubs will likely not shell out $200 million over 10 years, they could still be in a position to make a generous offer.

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