The Chicago Cubs hope to have fans in the stands not long after baseball returns for a 60-game season, according to president of business operations Crane Kenney.
"We are at a point where we believe we can bring some portion of our fan base back to Wrigley field," Kenney said on ESPN 1000 on Thursday morning.
The state of Illinois is moving into Phase 4 of coronavirus recovery on Friday, allowing businesses up to 20 percent capacity, including Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field where the White Sox play. But the city of Chicago isn't quite ready to approve the same measure, so fans may not be allowed inside on Opening Day. The mayor will need to sign off first. However, the multiple rooftops located across the street from the stadium in right and left field are in play. Kenney envisions them hosting fans right away.
"It looks like they can because each one is an individual address and capacity is limited," he explained.
When fans are allowed back into Wrigley Field, Kenney envisions capacity at about 8,000 with a yet-to-be determined system of distributing tickets. Priority is likely to be given to season-ticket holders. MLB is allowing advertising throughout the stands but Kenney says they won't "trick out" the park. Artificial fan noise -- until the real thing can be heard -- is a possibility.
"We'll be a little more creative," Kenney said. "It's difficult to watch the games where there is no virtual insertion of fan noise. We'll play around with that."
The Cubs are also hopeful the majority of their fans can watch their games. Their new television network, Marquee, is currently not being carried on Comcast, Chicagoland's largest cable provider. That should change by Opening Day.
"The pace has picked up dramatically since last Friday," Kenney said about negotiations. "I can't imagine Comcast not providing (games) to the millions of Cubs fans who are subscribers. I'm optimistic about it."