CHICAGO -- With Major League Baseball set to resume in July, teams are not only mapping out their roster decisions, but they're delving into plans for their respective ballparks, broadcasts and other business elements.
On Thursday, Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney went on a couple of Chicago radio shows to discuss an assortment of details being ironed out by the ballclub. Here are some of the highlights from Kenney's interview on 670 AM The Score as both the Cubs and their fans prepare for the upcoming 60-game season:
On negotiations between Marquee Sports Network and Comcast:
"The pace of our conversations ... have picked up dramatically, including, as of Friday, new term sheets being exchanged and then conversations happening this week. So I would expect we do reach an agreement with Comcast, in particular, as we see the potential for some Spring Training games, potentially with the White Sox, coming even ahead of the July 23 or 24 Opening Day. But yeah, pace has picked up, and we're optimistic we'll get something done here soon."
On broadcast elements under the season's unique circumstances:
"That's been a great debate inside our building. We're all watching what's happening in the various sports that are back on. ... Honestly, some of the things we've seen used to, say, 'enhance the broadcast,' don't fit for a franchise like the Cubs and a ballpark like Wrigley Field. And we probably would not do them. I think that the audio, without any -- we'll call it white noise or the insertion of fan noise -- is a little jarring for the television viewer. So they'll probably see the virtual insertion of some of the crowd noise, but in terms of cardboard cutouts and some [other things], I don't think you'll see that happening with us."
On potentially using Class A South Bend as a second training site:
"We're really fortunate to have South Bend so close, and beyond just being close, one of the best facilities in Minor League Baseball. [South Bend owner] Andy Berlin has done an amazing job there building out what we think is really a first-rate Minor League training facility from both the pitching and the hitting side, and the strength and nutrition side as well. So it's a really good option for us and one we're looking at closely."
On the possibility of having fans at Wrigley Field at some point in 2020:
"I've been optimistic on this one for a while. We're fortunate to have some of the best medical professionals in our city helping us, both from Advocate and Northwestern, and I'll give credit to the city and the city's health department as well. And there was always a path to bring fans back into Wrigley -- obviously, a much smaller group than would normally attend games. The fact that Gov. [J.B.] Pritzker got there ahead of us was obviously a good sign, and we're working with the city, having great conversations with the mayor's staff on this topic. We know our fans -- if safe and if it can be done with the right precautions -- would love to come back to the ballpark."
On whether fans will be allowed on the rooftops around Wrigley:
"The rooftops are an interesting one. They all have separate addresses, so they're each individual buildings, and even now, with the mayor's phasing of the city's reopening, we would be allowed to open the rooftops. So our expectation is the rooftops will be open for the first game, either on July 23 or July 24, whenever the schedule gets solidified."