WGN Radio Exercising Option to Re-Open Contract with the Cubs

According to a report from Ed Sherman, WGN-AM 720 is exercising an option to re-open their contract with the team due to “sharply declining ratings because of the Cubs’ struggles on the field.”

WGN has been broadcasting Cubs games since 1925 and would like to continue carrying the games but there is an option in the contract, which was renegotiated in 2009, that would allows WGN to pay less to carry the games.

According to the Tribune’s sources, WGN is currently paying as much as $10 million per year to the Cubs, and maybe more, which would make the deal one of the most expensive in baseball.

Ed Sherman explained that the Cubs “don’t appear to have much leverage if they want to shop their games in the market, which now is an option for them.” The Score (670 AM) is the home of the White Sox and are under contract. ESPN 1000 could be an option according to Sherman but the deal with the Bulls could cause conflicts over the first three months of the baseball season. Sherman added that ESPN 1000 “appears unlikely” and “is not in the position or mood to drop big bucks on the Cubs.” WBBM-AM 780 and WLS-AM 890 are not considered to be options and “going to an FM station isn’t a viable alternative.”

According to the report, 720 WGN is the only viable option and it is “possible that a reworked deal could be tied into a new TV deal to keep some games on WGN-Ch. 9.”

The Cubs have begun looking into a new TV deal with WGN, which the team can opt out of their current contract following next season. Sherman reported that “negotiations are taking place on that front too.”

WGN would like to remain the home of the Cubs but the radio station has lost significant money on a team that has lost 197 games over the past two seasons. Advertisers and listeners are simply not willing to pay attention.

Cubs games will continue to air on the station in 2014, “but beyond that, the two sides will have to agree on a new deal.”

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time." – Lou Brock

Share on Fancred
  • CubbyDenCritic

    Just saw a list from MLB of who are the top baseball announcers…..Caray was #5…..Scully was #1……The Hawk and Santo were Honorable Mention….no Brickhouse…..No Lou…..no Vince Lloyd……….the World is going mad.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Indeed. In my opinion, Hawk is #9346 on my list. A cat in heat would call a game better than him.

  • cubtex

    Chicago Cubs struggles on the field= Sharply declining ratings. Let’s think how they can rectify that? Chicago Cubs improvement on the field=Increased Ratings and both parties being happy. Theo??? What do you think?

    • SuzyS

      Cubtex, Why do you keep going after Theo???
      Does he set the budget? No. Before Theo even arrived…Ricketts is on record as saying that the growth of the team will come from improving the minor league system.

      The real culprit here that you should be ranting about is Sam Zell and the Tribune Co. They are the ones that set the onerous terms for the heavy debt-loaded deal.

      They are the ones that sent the payroll into the stratosphere with heavy backloaded deals for stars that couldn’t produce…hamstringing the Cubs for years to come.

      They are the ones that had stewartship of Wrigley Field for years…and really should have either rehabbed Wrigley or built a new ballpark…UNDER THEIR WATCH….not pass it on to the next poor sucker…(Ricketts).

      Zell and his cronies were the ones that took every dollar out of the Cubs and put very little back into the farm system…because they didn’t care about the future…they just wanted to suck every buck they could out of the Cubs.

      Ricketts might not be the best businessman or owner out there…BUT…he has done everything he’s said he was going to do…his $$$ go exactly where he said they were going to go….and to this point…hasn’t waivered in his goals in the face of public opposition.

      That public opposition…and those looking for immediate gratification, (like you), may destroy the very thing you are hoping for…a chance to see the Cubs in the World Series…and a Cardinal-like contender for years to come.

      Go ahead. Spread your vitriol. And when the Cubs change their plan to satisfy you…Don’t be surprised if they languish as a second tier team forever…since you didn’t have the patience to see the one plan that made sense for the Cubs to truly compete…come to fruition..

      Put your bile and vitro where it belongs…at Sam Zell…and stop this incessant Theo bashing. Theo & Co. are working their tails off to turn this thing around…and I might add…I believe they are doing it the only way available to them at this time.

      For them to stop at this time and change gears may actually doom us to another 104 years of futility…Why can’t you see that???

      Instead, you and other nay-sayers take every opportunity to bash the Cubs…all the while professing your love for the team.

      We’re building something here…and it’s not an easy thing to go through…I want to see a Cubs juggernaut, the likes of which hasn’t been seen for over a hundred years.

      I can see it coming…just like the rumblings of a long dormant volcano…starting to come to life. Why can’t you see it…all it takes is to stay the course for a couple of more years…and it will all come together.

      To accomplish that it will take intestinal fortitude…another name for “guts” or “balls”.
      I really hope the Cubs and their fanbase can see this through. Otherwise, all that losing was for not.

      • BeerHere

        Very well said. I couldn’t agree more.

      • cubtex

        Suzy. Who is responsible for putting the product on the field? Hoyer and your boy Theo. Bad product= Bad ratings. Good product=Good ratings.

        Who are the braintrust responsible for putting the mlb roster together? Go ahead and voice your battle cry for patience and how it will be worth the wait! You are entitled….just as I am to voice my opposition.

        • Shawon O’Meter

          Speaking of bad performances have you taken a look at the up and down ratings of your debate with Suzy? You may need to change your screen name to Washington Generals

          • cubtex

            lol. now my feelings are really hurt. Just when Suzy said how intelligent my post was….you went ahead and bursted my bubble. At least I can fit through the door now after work and make it home :)))

          • Tony_Hall

            I think it is obvious from the up and down arrows on this one. Of course it amazes me that Suzy got any down arrows, but then again, Tex, Rip, Gary, Coachdon, and Paul are the only up votes for Tex, so that is most likely the guys not liking Suzy.

            Great post Suzy!

          • paulcatanese

            You take a lot for granted. I would never give Suzy a down arrow, period. I give Cubtex an up arrow because I like what he has to say, period.

          • SuzyS

            :-) !!!

          • Tony_Hall

            I know you don’t do that, but I was just mentioning the normal Tex supporters.

            I have no idea how anyone can give Suzy a down arrow.

      • cubtex

        One other point. Didn’t Theo hamstring your beloved with overpriced FA contracts with many of those backloaded as he left the Red Sox??? Did Cherrington sit there and say…why or why? What can I do? No! He did something about it! He traded all those contracts. He is in a big market and ate the Dice K contracts. He added some key FA like Victorino(who many were saying what a bad contract that was) Napoli and look at that? They are still playing. What a cop out that is to say one Soriano contract is keeping this team from doing anything. Maybe you can let me know Suzy…What was the Cubs payroll this year? What is the projected payroll for next year?

        • SuzyS

          You are entitled to your viewpoint certainly.
          Secondly…The Red Sox have their revenue sources in place and can afford the major contracts you’re talking about.

          3rd…Just as Hendry was not responsible for Soriano’s extra 3 years to his contract…Theo was overvoted by John Henry for some of those so-called bad contracts Theo did in Boston.

          Why can’t you understand that the Cubs mlb payroll (which will be under 100k this year)…is only a small piece of the pie when considering $300 million of the owners $$$ for Wrigley renovations.
          (Other teams in the city were bankrolled by tax payers).

          A $32 million annual interest nut on a bad deal forced by Sam Zell.

          A neighborhood and city interfering with the normal maximization of revenues.

          2 new, privately funded, much needed facilities coming on board…AZ/DR.

          Major investment in the organizational structure.

          Where do you think all this cash is coming from in the face of declining revenues???

          It just seems to me…you enjoy taking pot shots at the Cubs FO at every opportunity.

          Please, Please tell me…
          A) With Friedman tied up…whom do you recommend run the Cubs?

          B)With someone like McCann expected to garner a $100,000,000 contract…where to you see the stash coming from to sign other suspect free agents?

          • cubtex

            Any fly by night…gm in training….Tom, Dick or Harry can follow the same plan as Theo and do just as well.

          • SuzyS

            Gee, what an intelligent response.

          • cubtex

            Aw Shucks! You are too kind Suzy. Thanks so much. Flattery is a great thing. I won’t be able to get through my office door this afternoon because my head will be too big from that praise. Thanks again!

          • daverj

            I agree with Suzy, but enjoy hearing Cubtex’ presentation of the counterpoints.

            I usually don’t agree with you cubtex, but your posts add to the site and I’m glad you are on here!

          • SuzyS


          • RynoTiger

            and don’t most arm-chair fantasy GM Dicks think they can run a sports organization better than those currently managing it

          • GaryLeeT

            So the owner of the Cubs is underfunded? That’s obvious.
            Every time I needed to expand my company, I borrowed money to add employees, because for a period of time, they do not produce enough to cover their costs. Almost every time I did that, it paid off 10 fold.

      • John_CC

        Thank you Suzy. Nothing more needs to be said. You should not keep responding because if the opposition to your statements can’t get it after that, then you shouldn’t waste your time.

      • GaryLeeT

        You know what I remember from the past stewardship? 5 outs away from a W.S. birth in 04. Playoff seasons in 07, and 08 (AKA, a chance). From the Ricketts’ era? What will statistically be the worst 4 consecutive seasons in their entire 143 years of their existence!

        • triple

          I think you’re talking about ’03? And oh yeah, since we were up 3 games to 2 in the two thousand and three NLCS we’ve lost 8 straight playoff games! Yet you completely value those two years we finished in 1st place and then got embarassingly swept out of both those playoff series. Way to put 3 of our top choke finishes up on a pedestal.

          • GaryLeeT

            The 4 is next to the 3 on the keyboard, and your point could not have been made without mentioning my typing mistake. So, good on you.

            “Way to put 3 of our top choke finishes up on a pedestal.”

            I tried to keep it in the range of teams that had played in the last 75 years, so my choices were limited. I used to think that if they could not win it all, why bother, until I experienced the last 3 years.

      • No Baseball In Indiana

        Awesome and well said! I’m glad not all posters here are like the Texan or Bulls avatar.

    • SuzyS

      2013 opening day payroll:$ 106,837,810 per Cots. I’m not sure about 2014…but it is much less at the moment:http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league-central/chicago-cubs/

      • GaryLeeT

        For the market size the Cubs are serving, that payroll is relatively small. It’s hard to tell what next year’s will be, because we don’t know what the final arbitration numbers will be, but even with at least one big signing, I am guessing the player payroll will be in the 70 to 80 million range. The WGN radio contract adds one more piece of evidence to my contention, that Ricketts is being penny wise, and pound foolish.

        • SuzyS

          GaryLeeT, I don’t see it that way at all.
          I see it as Ricketts trying a plan
          he believes is the best way to get the Cubs to be competitive, year in and year out.
          It’s a huge risk in that anyone with brains would know there would be a corresponding attendance loss to attempt such a move in a major market.

          But then…Look at Houston…also a major market…and it’s $26 million payroll.

          WGN knows the Cubs are going to look for a new…much better deal when
          its contract is up. WGN is in danger of being completely
          left behind…as I believe the Cubs will look to launch their own network…like the Yankees and Boston in 2019.

          This is just WGN’s way of pushing back and trying to stay relative.

          • GaryLeeT

            Suzy, there are basically two camps that post here. One, believes that a rebuild must include many consecutive 90 or 100 loss seasons. The other, believes that rebuilding, and fielding a competitive team, do not have to be mutually exclusive. Guess which one I fall into?

          • SuzyS

            I totally understand that.
            I’ve watched the Cubs attempt your way for many years with no results.
            I believe this is just a jumpstart phase.
            You’ll get a competitive team pretty soon.

  • Tony_Hall

    When did Ed Sherman go to work for WGN…..oh wait a minute, Tribune, WGN…..amazing how his view is there are no other real alternatives.

    I would love to see WGN screw this up and let other radio stations and TV stations bid them out. They say they are losing money, what about all those years when they made tons of money, did they offer any of it to the Cubs, I don’t think so. The Tribune had sweetheart deals for ever and ever for radio and TV, as a way to make sure that the Cubs revenues stayed lower to help them with any revenue sharing deals within MLB. One day the Cubs will have real market TV and radio deals to go along with a more modern facility to play games and for their players to train in the off-season. All of this will be because Tom Ricketts has made this a priority after so many years of neglect of these areas by previous ownership.

    • cubtex

      Lets see. He basically mentioned all the options.
      WIND 560 AM. No chance. Can’t afford
      WSCR 670 am. White Sox

      WBBM 780am. Bears

      WLS 890 am. I doubt it.
      WMVP 1000 am. Bulls

      So where is the market? Who do you see knocking down the door to buy this product is WGN bails?

      How about the Spanish speaking station. We can hire a Spanish speaking manager. Spanish speaking announcers. Taco Bell signs all over Wrigley. Mariachi bands for the 7th inning stretch! There we go.

      • Tony_Hall

        WSCR and ESPN would both be running to get in front of the Cubs to make offers.

        Don’t be so negative, a new radio and TV deal would give the Cubs to spend more money on FA’s that you want.

        • cubtex

          WSCR covers the White Sox. I know you probably don’t too much about radio….Can’t work with both. Too many scheduling conflicts.

          • Tony_Hall

            They would drop the Sox to get the Cubs.

          • cubtex

            All this time I thought you were just a fan…Tony Hall. I didn’t realize you owned and ran WSCR. Cool! I do business with them. I will stop in and see you next time I am in Chicago.

          • Tony_Hall

            That is my opinion, no different that your posts are your opinions. LOL

          • cubtex

            One other kind of important point. White Sox deal doesn’t end till the end of 2015 with WSCR. WGN deal ends end of 2014 with the Cubs.

          • Tony_Hall

            They would make it work for the one year. The Sox would have to hope there is no language in the contract that gives 670 any outs or any ways to put them on secondary stations, which I would not be surprised if the contract does allow those things.

          • 07GreyDigger

            CBS owns a lot of radio stations in this town besides WSCR. I imagine they could find space for the Sox somewhere.

          • cubtex

            yep and I mentioned the only other on AM. WBBM. Very doubtful.
            WJMK 155.9 FM
            US 99

            Where do you see the fit?

          • Ripsnorter1

            WBBM used to carry the White Sox.

            I do not see why they could not pick up the Cubs.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Every Tuesday game night at Wrigley, the station can sponsor a giveaway of a El Dorado with cable jumpers!

        • cubtex

          They wouldn’t have to worry about parking around Wrigley because they only need 2 spots. The entire stadium would be filled with 2 cars.

          Disclaimer- I am married to a beautiful Hispanic woman for over 20 years. My kids are half latino so this is not any way meant to be a racial slur.

          • CubbyDenCritic

            I love Hispanic women……good moms…….very loyal……..lucky you!

      • triple

        That’s classy turning the conversation to the “Spanish speaking manager” route and cracking jokes about taco bell and mariachi bands. Wow!?!?!?! Completely offensive, insensitive, and ignorant statement right there! Please stop typing your thoughts here.

  • jtrain23

    So if the Cubs can manage to make the playoffs once per decade and win 75 games per year every other year, WGN is in. But have two or three straight 90 loss seasons….that’s just too much to take. I feel there is more brewing here.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Just in case you missed this fact, the Cubs just experienced the
      two worst losing years in their long history. This year promises to
      set a new record for the worst three years of losing ever.

      What do you think is brewing, aside from a fan base tired of losing?

      • jtrain23

        I appreciate your mature and respectful comment… I am well aware of the product on the field the last few years. I think every body is. I also have found myself being less interested in games, especially late in the season, so I am sure that the ratings are down. I was simply saying that pointing out two years that are slightly more futile than the other hundred is like picking which person is most responsible for the problems in the federal government. Pointless.

        “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.” – Benjamin Disraeli

        • SuzyS

          Love the Disraeli quote jtrain!!!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    I heard WGN Radio got a new station manager…..making changes…….maybe looking to cut costs……….lets face it, another bad year is on the horizon for the Cubbies……on the other hand, many top prospects will be here soon where fans want to hear about……..and there are the Cubs radio announcers……..anyone want to hear another Keith Moreland career highlight?………I do miss those Santo emotional screams…….when your team is doing good, you can add sponsors……doing bad, hard to sell air spots…..maybe Orion Samuelson farm reports sound better then hearing Rizzo looking at a third strike!……or Samardzija getting whacked around by the Cardinals heavy hitters………..Ricketts should just buy a DuPage college radio station and make it a 24/7 Cubs Radio station…WCUB is on the air!

  • Tony_Hall

    Looking like Jose Abreu is coming to Chicago and the White Sox. Only $68M over 6 years. He is a much better fit for the AL.

    Say good bye to Konerko.


    • Ripsnorter1

      $68 million doesn’t buy much these days.

      “Some experts have raised doubts about his bat speed, however, and his defense and athleticism are not highly regarded.”

  • Ripsnorter1

    All of this bad news just because we could not sign Girardi!

    WGN’s ratings have totally tanked because the fans could not see Girardi filling
    out the lineup card, or trotting to the mound to remove one of Team Theo’s pitchers.

    How totally sad!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Bruce Levine intimated last week that he was let go by ESPN 1000
    because he spoke too negatively about the Cubs. He was forecasting that
    the rebuild would take 8-10 years.

    Doesn’t that mean that ESPN thinks that Levine should not
    upset the Kool-Aid drinkers? To prevent further stomach upset, Mr.
    Levine has been relieved of his duties at ESPN.

    Well, at least the management of ESPN radio is on Rickett’s side (and Team Theo).

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Let’s move on from this. Thank you.

    • RynoTiger

      what?..a sports writer was saying the rebuild would take 8-10 years?! holy cow it must be true because he’s a sportswriter and he’s rebuilt so many sports organizations around the world. damn to hell, why didn’t Ricketts hire Levine instead of Theo?! I can’t believe the Cubs lost out on all of that organizational management that Levine would be brought. damn! here’s to another 104 years because we didn’t hire Levine.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Think, Ryno, Think:

        ESPN fired Levine for being too negative.

        Maybe they will buy the WGN Cubs’ contract.

        Why would that upset you?

        • Tony_Hall

          They fired Levine because he is not a good reporter anymore. His only angle left without JH using him to leak things, was to be negative because he had no more real info.

  • Ripsnorter1

    More bad news: WGN doesn’t expect David Price to come to the Cubs.

    “There has been a lot of talk about the Cubs making a big move this offseason, but in my opinion, it’s a year or two too early, and in the end, I think Theo Epstein and friends balk at the price, pun intended.

    The Cubs still are putting the pieces of the organization together, figuring out who’s in the future core and who isn’t, and it’s just too soon for the team to start making a big push for players of Price’s ilk. That push will happen, but not at a time in which the team’s next goal is to hit .500.” by Dan Szymborski

  • Eugene Debs

    Who doesn’t want to sit back, relax, and listen to the smooth sounds of quality at-bats from minor league cast-offs?

  • Pingback: Eight Former Cubs on List to Replace Keith Moreland - Chicago Cubs Online()

  • Pingback: Report: Hollandsworth and Coomer Finalists for Cubs Radio Job - Chicago Cubs Online()

  • Pingback: Cubs Future on 720 WGN Remains in Question - Chicago Cubs Online()

  • Pingback: Report: Cubs Could Be Close to Announcing New Broadcast Partners - Chicago Cubs Online()

  • Pingback: Cubs Reportedly Set to Announce Seven-Year Agreement with WBBM-AM 780 - Chicago Cubs Online()

  • Pingback: The Daily CCO: The End of an Era for the Chicago Cubs - Chicago Cubs Online()