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Cubs sell naming rights to spring training home

1/8/2015

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs announced their first modern naming-rights deal, selling the name to their spring training home to Chicago-based Sloan Valve Company.

Cubs Park, opened last year in Mesa, Ariz., will now be known as Sloan Park. The multi-year deal, which makes Sloan, a manufacturer of commercial plumbing products, a Cubs' legacy partner and the "Official Water Efficiency Partner," is for seven figures annually.

Sloan Valve, located in Franklin Park, Ill., about 13 miles west of Wrigley Field, is a privately-owned “leading global manufacturer of water-efficient solutions” that was founded in the glory days of the Cubs, 109 years ago.

On its website, Sloan’s vision is described as “providing smart, clean and sustainable restroom solutions.” And yes, Sloan executives know you’ve been making toilet humor about this deal on Twitter.

“Growing up in this business, no smart-ass can miss the opportunity to make a toilet joke, me included,” Sloan President and CEO Jim Allen said in a phone interview. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We’re serious businessmen and we take business seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. “

Allen’s great-grandfather started the business in 1906, two years before the Cubs' last World Series title, and now it’s a global company. Allen, who grew up in River Forest and moved to North Shore suburb of Kenilworth during high school, noted that Sloan products are in the White House, the new Freedom Tower, and even new buildings in Mecca.

But, as Allen asked a reporter: “Have you ever heard of us before today?”

“We want to raise awareness of our brand, and a stadium is a great showcase,” Allen said. “I was there when Cubs Park opened in Mesa. It’s beautiful. It has our equipment already. This relationship also allows us to use it as a marketing platform.”

Wrigley Field has had Sloan products -- valves, fixtures, etc. -- since it opened in 1914, and yes, Sloan manufactures the famous troughs in the men’s bathrooms, which are grandfathered in under current plumbing code.

With the Wrigley rebuild starting this offseason, Sloan will work closely with the Cubs on making the stadium “green” and “efficient.”

“We want to help the Cubs meet their water-efficiency needs and improve the bathroom experience,” he said.

When the stadium renovations are finished, expect to see a couple “showroom” bathrooms. When the bleachers are finished this season, there are expected to be updated bathrooms. Sloan will also have “fixed signage” in the visiting team’s bullpen.

The company is the sixth legacy partner of the Cubs. The others are Anheuser-Busch, ATI Physical Therapy, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Under Armour and Wintrust.