Cubs Reportedly Set to Announce Seven-Year Agreement with WBBM-AM 780

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will announce Thursday a new partnership with CBS Radio that will move Cubs games from WGN-AM 720 to WBBM-AM 780 beginning next season. The Cubs will remain on 720 WGN for the remainder of this season. The Cubs moving from WGN to WBBM will end a relationship that began in 1925.

Robert Feder reported the Cubs “finalized a seven-year agreement to broadcast on CBS Radio all-news WBBM-AM 780 starting with the 2015 season.” Robert Feder also reported the possibility of the Cubs moving to WSCR-AM 670 (The Score) for the 2016 season if the station loses its broadcast rights to the White Sox games, which run through the 2015 season.

Robert Feder spoke with Jimmy de Castro, WGN’s president and general manager, on Tuesday night and de Castro confirmed to Feder the Cubs will no longer be broadcast on WGN after this season.

The Cubs have scheduled a news conference for Thursday at Wrigley Field, where the team is expected to announce the new radio deal.

Financial terms of the Cubs agreement with CBS Radio were not released. The Cubs reportedly received as much as $10 million per season from WGN for the broadcast rights.

Jimmy de Castro told Robert Feder he supports “the efforts of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer to rebuild the team, and tried in various ways to come to terms on a renewal with Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney.” WGN was “prepared to lose a lot of money” and among de Castro’s proposals, according to Robert Feder, “were a variety of rights arrangements, revenue sharing deals on top of guarantees, and even a plan that would have given the Cubs ownership in the station.” Feder reported the “Cubs went strictly by the numbers, and WGN chose to waive its right to match CBS Radio’s seven-year cash offer.”

WGN exercised an option in its contract with the Cubs to renegotiate the broadcast rights last October.

The contract the Cubs was looking for, and found with CBS Radio, did not work for WGN. According to Feder’s report, de Castro said, “So it’s really not us saying we don’t want them anymore. It’s the Cubs saying the economics they need are much greater that what we think they’re worth or what we’ll pay. They chose to go another way economically and made a decision to move on.”

Patrick Mooney reported Tuesday night that CBS could use “its local portfolio and national reach to help promote everything from concerts at Wrigley Field to Cactus League games at Cubs Park.” Mooney’s report backs up earlier rumors that would be a part of the new broadcast deal with the team.

Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer are under contract for next season (both contracts run through the 2015 season) and will make the move with the team to WBBM. Hughes’ contract runs through the 2015 season, and Crane Kenney has said Pat Hughes will remain the Voice of the Cubs no matter which station is broadcasting the games.

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