Today, Chicago Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney spoke with Dan Bernstein on 670 The Score, and he dropped all kinds of important information.
I’ll get the full interview embedded when it’s available, but for now, I took notes live and I’ve paraphrased Kenney’s comments below.
• The big question, given what’s happening with the White Sox’s plans … does Kenney think there will be fans at Cubs games at Wrigley Field this Year? From Kenney: I do think there will be fans. We are fortunate to have some of the best medical health professionals in the city helping us. There was always a path to bring fans to Wrigley, but much smaller crowd than usual. Governor Pritzker announced that it was do-able under Phase 4, and that’s a good sign, and now we’re having great conversations with the city and the Mayor on this topic.
• If it happens, you ought to plan for masks on the entire game. The process is being led by medical professionals, and we wouldn’t attempt it, even if permitted by the law, if we didn’t think it could be safe. So, again, plan on masks, plan on social distancing among fans, and plan no more than 20% capacity (about 8,000 fans). Brett: It sounded to me like the Cubs are already working up the logistics of how they would do this, if it becomes available.
• The Wrigley Rooftops, however, all have separate addresses as separate businesses, and they already fit within the city’s guidelines for re-opening. So the expectation is that they’ll be open for the first game of the year.
• Many of the restaurants around the park are already open (just following the state and city guidelines), but the hotel probably will not open in July because of the cleaning needs and anticipated usage. As for Gallagher Way, that’s still TBD.
• OK, so the second big question of the day: what about talks between Marquee and Comcast? Any carriage deal yet? Kenney: The pace of talks have picked up dramatically after basically being shut down when the sport shut down, since no one even knew if baseball was coming back this year. As of Friday, new term sheets had been exchanged, and there are ongoing conversations this week. I’d expect an agreement, especially as we see the potential for Spring Training games in July, possibly against the White Sox. I’m optimistic we’ll get something done soon.
• Games are likely to involve some kind of virtual insertion of fan noise for broadcasts (it’s jarring when there isn’t any), but Kenney doesn’t see the Cubs going to “cardboard cutout” fans in the stands, since that doesn’t really fit with Wrigley Field. (To each their own!) He is hoping that fans can be there, because nothing beats the real thing, and “8,000 Cubs fans can make a lot of noise.”