Cubs plan to have their own TV network in 2020
Cubs business president Crane Kenney said he wasn't able to offer many specifics, but he reiterated Saturday that the Cubs would have their own TV network for 2020.
The team's contracts with NBC Sports Chicago, WGN and ABC 7 expire after the 2019 season, and the Cubs feel they can maximize revenues and take more control of their own product by striking out on their own.
Of course, the devil will be in the details, such as with whom the Cubs partner with to produce games and other content, the cost to consumers and whether cable operators will carry the channel and how much it will cost consumers.
Kenney said he may have more information within the next 30 days.
"We are going to have our own channel," Kenney told fans Saturday at the Cubs convention. "I was also asked, 'Do we have a partner?' We are likely to have a strategic partner as we launch this channel on our own."
Cubs play politics:
Things got a bit uncomfortable during the business-operations session when the Cubs continued their concerted attack against Alderman Tom Tunney, who represents the ward in which Wrigley Field sits.
Julian Green, the Cubs' vice president of communications and community affairs, quipped that Chicago is a place where "you can vote twice from the grave." He also said Tunney serves his own "special interests."
That drew a grumble in the ballroom. During the question-and-answer session, one fan took to the microphone to say how "uncomfortable" he felt that politics had been injected into the session.
"One guy, one person," Green told reporters afterward of the complaint.
The Cubs have long felt that Tunney has been an obstacle to the changes they have made in and around the ballpark.
"Like Julian said, we want a level playing field, we want to be treated like every other team in town, we want to be treated like every other bar in town, we want to get treated like every other restaurant in town," Crane Kenney said "If all that happened in our city was the Cubs were treated just like everyone else, no better and no worse, we would have no issues. The White Sox can play as many night game as they want. If we had that, no issues. Same thing as hours of operations. That's essentially the message we're trying to share with our fans."
Zobrist talks future:
Infielder outfielder Ben Zobrist was in demand after doing a session with other hitters. Zobrist is entering his fourth and final season of his contract with the Cubs. He said he has not thought beyond this year or about possibly being traded.
"I've heard a few a few things, but I don't pay a lot of attention to it," he said. "I know that the team has a tough job in the off-season, especially the front office. I trust them. I know that they're wise, kind of shrewd businessmen. They're going to make the right decisions based on the amount of money they have. I think they've proven that over the last few years in the way that they've take care of the team and put the best possible team on the field.
"That being said, I am one of the pawns. You recognize where you're at as a player, and you own it."