Tom Ricketts Says DTC Streaming Service, Sportsbook, Jersey Patches Not Expected by Opening Day

Tom Ricketts made some time to speak with the media while he patrolled the facilities in Mesa during the first official day of full-squad workouts. Thing is, he didn’t have a whole lot to offer aside from repeating that the business operations team is still doing its due diligence on a number of topics. So despite having quite a bit of runway, it sounds like several highly-anticipated (not all for good reasons) developments won’t come to fruition until the season is well underway.

One of those is the potential for a direct-to-consumer streaming option that would bring Marquee to cord-cutters. Ricketts said ongoing discussions about how to best launch the service “may mean it’s not 100% ready to go Opening Day.” I interpret that as meaning there’s no way in hell this thing gets off the ground anytime soon.

“We want to make sure that when we do have it out there, it’s a good value to fans,” Ricketts said.

That wasn’t the case with Marquee’s initial rollout and I find it hard to believe an operation that doesn’t seem to have learned from any number of past failures will finally get this right, but maybe they’ll prove me wrong. The existing Marquee app is one of the clunkiest available and it seems at times as though the network is actively trying to prevent even those who actually have it from being able to watch it.

Getting a streamer up and running would be great news for at least dozens of fans, though I don’t know if even that many are happy about the idea of an advertising patch on the Cubs’ jerseys. The Reds will earn $5 million annually to rep Kroger, the Padres will get $9 million from Motorola, and the Red Sox have a 10-year, $170 million pact with MassMutual. Several other teams have also announced deals and you know the rest of the league will follow suit rather than pass up free money.

The Cubs surely have plenty of offers to choose from, but Ricketts said “we’ll just have to wait for the right one.” Like the streaming service, the jersey patches might not be sorted out until after the start of the regular season. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Is it better to just rip the band-aid off and get the patches figured out now or ease them in once the games get going? Either way, this will go over way worse than moving from WGN 720 to 670 The Score a few years back.

Finally, we get to the sportsbook that was somehow approved as an addition to a federal landmark in spite of its incongruous architectural style. This will be shocking to most of you, but it won’t be ready for the start of the season either. Ricketts would not offer a specific date for the ribbon-cutting, saying only that it should be open by late spring or early summer.

Not great for the team’s revenue, but I guess it’s better than a lack of bathrooms forcing patrons to use their plastic cups as urinals.

At this point, we have to start wondering whether the Cubs themselves will make it back from Mesa on time for the start of the regular season. Thank goodness that’s not something the biz ops group is negotiating. I’ll close by asking what you think the chances are that Ricketts is telling Ian Happ his extension offer won’t be ready by Opening Day.

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