Crane Kenney, the Cubs’ President of Business Operations, has been saying for quite some time that the new Marquee Sports Network will provide a big revenue boost. However, this past winter’s budget restrictions led to some questions about how much of that additional cheddar will be devoted to payroll. Kenney addressed that to an extent when he joined 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Wednesday.
Crane Kenney expects #Cubs to have one of baseball's highest payrolls again next season: "I don't anticipate us having any real big changes on the downside to our baseball spending going forward because of the (Marquee Sports) network."
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) September 18, 2019
“I don’t anticipate us having any real big changes on the downside to our baseball spending going forward because of the network,” Kenney said.
Now, if that seems a little less than definitive, consider that carriage negotiations have yet to be finalized. That means the business side can’t set the budget just yet, hence the non-committal phrasing. Kenney expressed confidence that deals with TV providers would be complete “in a timely fashion,” but admitted that they can sometimes come down to the 11th hour. The Cubs are prepared for that, he said, though exactly what that means isn’t entirely clear.
It may be indicative of ownership’s willingness to spend big(ger) even if Marquee’s coverage isn’t as widespread as hoped by the time next season’s baseball budget is set. One has to hope that’s the case, anyway, since the organization will have those financial discussions soon after the season is over, at which point it’s highly doubtful all the carriage stuff is buttoned up. You may recall that the first indications of this season’s relative freeze were seen here at CI at the end of October, with more widespread reports coming in November. Assuming a similar timeline, we should find out more on this in the next 4-6 weeks or so.
There’s plenty to discuss in terms of how additional payroll dollars could impact extensions and/or free agency, but let’s save that for later. Not only is it fairly self-explanatory, but it’s also very much hypothetical for the time being. As for how the new Marquee Sports Network will impact your ability to watch the Cubs, you can find more in this post.