CHICAGO (CBS) — A powerful Chicago alderman has urged the Cubs not to start their own cable network, arguing it would prevent many fans from being able to watch the games on TV.
Ald. Edward Burke (14th), who chairs the City Council Finance Committee, said he doesn’t want to see the Cubs create their own regional sports network and start charging fees for its broadcasts or require a premium cable package to see games on TV.
Currently, Cubs games are aired either on local TV stations or basic cable network Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
“One would hope that everyone can have an opportunity to watch the Cubbies,” Burke said. “Everyone can’t afford to go to the games, since they’ve also increased their ticket prices.”
Burke acknowledged the city can’t force the Cubs to renew their existing broadcast contracts or prevent them from starting their own network that could only be seen with a premium cable package.
“We can urge, but they, I’m sure, are going to be coming back here in the future, and it’s something to be considered,” he said.
That veiled threat came wrapped in a reminder that the City Council approved lucrative video scoreboards for Wrigley Field and the ongoing renovation plans for the ballpark.
The Cubs’ current TV contract expires in 2020, and the team has expressed interest in starting its own network, similar to the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees.