Plumbing company gets naming rights to Cubs Park

January 10, 2015
Arizona Republic
Jim Walsh

Add newly-coined Sloan Park to the long list of Valley ballparks, stadiums and arenas now sporting corporate names as the result of lucrative naming rights deals.

Formerly known as Cubs Park, Mesa's latest Cactus League stadium was a huge hit with fans last year when it attracted record crowds. But those fans who enjoyed the large party pavilion behind the left-field fence, shady seating, and vintage architectural features will have no choice but to adapt to the new name.

In case you might be wondering, Sloan Valve Company is a major manufacturer of commercial plumbing systems. Just like the Chicago Cubs, Sloan has deep roots in the Windy City dating back to 1906 and is headquartered in Franklin Park, Ill.

And 1906 was part of the Cubs' now-distant golden era. The Cubs went 116-36 that year, winning the National League pennant but losing to their crosstown rival Chicago White Sox, 4 games to 2, in the World Series, according to baseballreference.com.

The Cubs went on to win two consecutive World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers in 1907 and 1908, but have since endured a 106-year championship drought. They are hoping to change all of that soon, with the additions of top free-agent left handed pitcher Jon Lester and acclaimed manager Joe Maddon this winter.

Other sports venues in the Valley with corporate names include Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies; Talking Stick Resort Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury; Chase Field, summer home of the Diamondbacks; Gila River Arena, home of the Arizona Coyotes; and University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the Arizona Cardinals.

Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, who led the drive to build the new park with the late Robert Brinton, a former Cactus League president, said corporate names are part of the sports landscape and that the name will eventually grow on baseball fans.

"We'll get used to it," Smith said.

In baseball terminology, Mesa traded the facility's naming rights to the Cubs in exchange for the cost of maintaining a large Cactus League training complex. What's more important than the moniker, Smith said, is Mesa's continuing connection with the Cubs and their value in attracting tourism and other business to Mesa.

"I don't care what they name it, as long as the next piece of dialogue is: Sloan Park, Mesa, Arizona," Smith said. "The Cactus League is big business. It's all about bringing dollars and business into Mesa."

Smith and Brinton spearheaded an election drive that culminated in voters approving construction of the $84 million ballpark, expanded practice facilities and a much larger clubhouse. Hohokam Stadium, the Cubs' former spring home, becomes the spring home of the Oakland Athletics this year. The new park nixed rumblings of a potential Cubs move to Naples, Florida, despite their long history in Mesa.

Julian Green, a Cubs spokesman, said the team expected a few jokes about the team's new association with a plumbing fixtures company, but there is a long history between the Cubs and Sloan.

Green said Sloan's products have been an essential part of Wrigley Field, the Cubs' home stadium, since it opened in April 1914. Wrigley Field is baseball's second oldest stadium, younger than only Fenway Park in Boston, which dates to 1912.

"I think this enhances our brand," Green said. "I think this only emboldens the history and the mission of the Cubs from Wrigley Field to our spring facility in Mesa."