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Old Style's run at Wrigley likely to continue

3/11/2014

CHICAGO -- Change can be a dirty word for some at Wrigley Field.

Video boards, giant Budweiser signs, Clark the Cub, losing on purpose.

It can get a little dizzying.

But loyal Old Style fans can belch a sigh of relief. Some things do stay the same.

Despite what you heard, the iconic Chicago beer was never completely exiled at the Friendly Confines. It'll likely just be harder to find in 2014.

Old Style, once synonymous with day baseball at Clark and Addison, will still be sold at Wrigley Field this season, according to tweets from two SportsBusiness Journal reporters Monday.

SBJ facilities reporter Don Muret (@breakground) wrote the Cubs confirmed that their concessionaire Levy Restaurants will still carry the beer. The Cubs would not confirm this confirmation.

"We have yet to announce our food and beverage lineup for the season at Wrigley Field," Cubs vice president of communications Julian Green wrote in an email.

Old Style was figured to be a goner when the Cubs and Budweiser announced an exclusive marketing agreement, worth $140 million over 10 years, according to an ESPN Chicago source. That deal meant Budweiser products would get the sole rights to be vended in the seats.

But according to two sources, Chicago beer vendors were told in February that Old Style would "probably" still be sold at the park at some stands, but that they wouldn't be selling them in the seats anymore after a 63-year partnership.

Vendors were told Goose Island beers, including the popular 312 Urban Wheat, will replace Old Style as the vendors' alternative to Budweiser and Bud Light. Goose Island, which was founded in 1988 in Chicago, was bought by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2011.

Prices haven't been announced yet. Last season, the vendors' Bud products and Old Style were both priced at $7.75.

On Monday, Old Style chief marketing officer Dan McHugh told ESPN Chicago he had heard the beer would be back in a limited basis, but couldn't confirm the news, nor could Nick Tero, the sales manager of Skokie Valley Beverage Company, the beer's local distributor, when he was reached by phone Tuesday.

The fate of Old Style at Wrigley was a hotter topic than the actual team during the lazy days of September when the new Bud deal was announced.

Old Style garnered attention with a viral marketing campaign to "save" the brand at Wrigley Field.

But at the time, the Cubs maintained that their Levy Restaurants could still carry the beer at the ballpark, even if it wasn't being vended in the seats.

Old Style's goal was to keep the vending relationship intact, but the company knew that was a long shot because of the Bud deal.

"My guess is that they will stick us in a few portables around the concourse so they say that they carry us," McHugh wrote in an email Monday.