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Ed Wehmer, founder and CEO of Wintrust. 0

Wintrust was in running for Sox park’s name

September 4th, 2016

Guaranteed Rate wasn’t the only company considered for naming rights of U.S. Cellular Field. Wintrust Financial also talked to White Sox management.

Imagine fans’ glee at seeing “win” and “trust” in the name.

“We said we’d think about it and then they cut a deal (with Guaranteed Rate),” Wintrust Financial CEO Ed Wehmer said, in acknowledging discussions for naming rights. “There are no hard feelings.”

Guaranteed Rate is a local mortgage lending company known for its big, red down arrow. CEO Victor Ciardelli III hopes the idea of pitchers’ ERAs dropping comes to mind when fans see that arrow.
Wintrust Financial, meanwhile, remains the official bank of the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

Wehmer says a big ballpark probably doesn’t fit his company’s MO. “Putting our name on a big stadium with a major league might be bad luck,” he says. Consider Sports Authority Field in Colorado. After the company went bankrupt the Broncos are trying to end the sponsorship.

It also rubs Wintrust’s small-town sensibilities.

“We like being the kind of bank where customers can call with a question and we know who you are,” says Wehmer, adding, a smaller venue might be a better idea, he says.

Wehmer was a CPA when he had the idea of creating a community bank some 25 years ago. He hatched the idea at a card table with David Dykstra, now Wintrust’s chief operating officer and treasurer, and Richard Murphy, the chief credit officer. Beer and cigars were involved.

Wintrust is based in Rosemont, has assets of about $25 billion and has banks in some 50 communities–including Chicago.

“We started because we wanted to be a local alternative to big banks,” says Wehmer, a gregarious man who with his wife has six children and enjoys a game of golf now and again. “And then we got big.”

Just not big enough for a major league ballpark, apparently.

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