City cable subscribers got a double dose of good news yesterday, as TCI, the local franchiser, reached agreement with ESPN2 to not only pick up the signal of tomorrow's Grey Cup (5:30 p.m.), but also to add the 2-year-old channel to its lineup.
The CFL championship game, involving the Baltimore Stallions and the Calgary Stampeders, will be made available to the 110,000 subscribers on the system's channel 43, a vacant channel, for a second straight year.
ESPN officials permitted TCI to carry two Baltimore postseason games last year, even though the system didn't offer ESPN2 on its channel roster. The network, however, declined to do so this year without a commitment that TCI would make room for ESPN2.
That confirmation came yesterday morning, though no specific launch date has been announced.
"We've been in constant negotiation for over a year," said Josh Krulewitz, an ESPN spokesman. "We're pretty comfortable that we'll have a launch on the system in the near future."
Coles Ruff, TCI's local general manager, said the launch should come in the next few months and was delayed by a change in federal cable regulations that made delivering ESPN2 not economical.
Ruff said the agreement to carry ESPN2 on a permanent basis was not driven by the game.
However, after reports circulated earlier this week that the game would not be available in the city, officials in Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's office, as well as at the corporate headquarters of TCI, the nation's largest cable provider, became involved in the talks.