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Cubs to launch Marquee Sports Network

Regional sports network will provide unprecedented access, exclusive content
MLB.com @MLBastian

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' regional sports network will be arriving next spring. All that is left to unveil are the many details involved within the team's ambitious venture away from on-air broadcasts.

On Wednesday, while the Cubs prepared for the first official Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers, the club announced that it has partnered with Sinclair Broadcast Group for the launch of Marquee Sports Network. The plan is to have the network up and running in 2020, in time to air the Cubs' Cactus League games next year.

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs' regional sports network will be arriving next spring. All that is left to unveil are the many details involved within the team's ambitious venture away from on-air broadcasts.

On Wednesday, while the Cubs prepared for the first official Spring Training workout for pitchers and catchers, the club announced that it has partnered with Sinclair Broadcast Group for the launch of Marquee Sports Network. The plan is to have the network up and running in 2020, in time to air the Cubs' Cactus League games next year.

"We are excited to better serve our fans with expanded and exclusive programming showcasing our remarkable players, beloved ballpark and storied past," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a press release, "Our dedicated 'Cubs-centric' network will carry all available Cubs games and feature uncompromising, in-depth and behind-the-scenes coverage."

During Cubs Convention last month, Kenny teased that another professional sports team (or teams) might become involved with Marquee, though no information was offered on that front as part of Wednesday's announcement. Still to come as well are details about streaming availability, carriage rights and a litany of other elements that are related to the launching of a regional sports network.

The Cubs did note that broadcasters Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will continue to be involved with the live game broadcasts. The network will also provide extensive pregame and postgame coverage, original Cubs-related content and other live sports programming, per the release.

The name "Marquee" stems from the famous red marquee on Wrigley Field.

This move by the Cubs has been in the works for several years, but the process moved closer to reality earlier this offseason, when the White Sox, Bulls and Blackhawks announced an extension with NBC Sports Chicago. The current 15-year contract that includes those three teams -- plus the Cubs -- expires after 2019.

"This partnership brings together one of the most iconic sports franchises in the country with one of the largest television broadcasting companies," Sinclair president and CEO Chris Ripley said in a release. "It is hard to imagine any content that is more unique and valuable than the live sports entertainment the Cubs have been delivering to their fans for more than a century.

"Sinclair's strength in production, distribution and local sales will support bringing more content to more viewers, all while leveraging the latest technology."

Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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