Chicago Cubs could return to WGN-TV for 2015 season


Despite opting out of a contract earlier this year, the Chicago Cubs are reportedly looking at a potential reunion with WGN-TV in 2015, while continuing to work on and flesh out plans for a major television deal that other teams in markets such as New York and Los Angeles have taken full advantage of in recent years.

According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, the potential renegotiated deal could include fewer games than the previous arrangement, with the team’s other television broadcast partner stepping up.

"While the team’s long-term play is to create a regional sports network, sources say the Cubs are working on a return to WGN-Ch. 9 next season, perhaps with a reduced broadcast schedule and the potential for revenue sharing. Such a deal could require moving more games to Comcast SportsNet, the team’s cable partner."

With the signing of new manager Joe Maddon and an influx of top talent already reaching the big league level, the Cubs organization is moving out of a lengthy rebuilding process that encompassed all areas – including Wrigley Field itself, which is in the initial stages of a four-year, $575-million renovation this winter. With the front office focused on adding talent via trade or free agency in the next two years, prospects for a mega-deal are stronger than ever.

"Launching a regional sports network in 2020 could mean big bucks for the Cubs, who earned about $60 million last season splitting their schedule between Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WGN-TV. The team received about $500,000 per game from CSN and about $250,000 per game from WGN, according to sources."

The Tribune report pointed out the disparity between the Cubs, which play in one of the larger markets in Major League Baseball, and the Dodgers, who unveiled their own cable network in 2014, earning some $2 million per game. The deal to bring the team back to WGN next season could well include an opt-out clause that would allow the team to work on a long-term deal sooner than 2020. No deal between the two sides would not last past the 2019 season.

Chicago and FOX have been oft-linked as prospective partners moving forward, but, according to the report, the two sides have not spoken. However, whether or not this proves to be true remains to be seen.

"“There have been no conversations between Fox and the Cubs for quite some time,” a Tribune source said. “Everything else is just speculation.”"

For now, one foot is in the air with the two sides talking. Now, we wait for the other to drop.