Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told CNBC on Friday that he hopes enough progress is made in fighting the coronavirus pandemic to give Wrigley Field a traditional feel again next season.
“I hope that with vaccinations, better treatments and better tests by the end of summer, it will feel like a normal baseball game,” Ricketts said in an interview on Closing Bell.
His comments come as pitchers and catchers begin signing up for early workouts. Spring training in Major League Baseball is slated to begin in earnest next week. Various Covid security protocols to limit the spread of the virus among teams remain in place. The opening day is April 1st.
Last season, MLB played a significantly reduced schedule in empty stadiums. Fans did not return until late in the playoffs on a limited basis, including the World Series, which was played in a neutral location in Arlington, Texas.
Franchises faced financial challenges due to a reduced schedule and lack of personal viewers. In October, Stan Kasten, President and CEO of Los Angeles Dodgers, told CNBC that the team was expecting sales “well north of $ 100 million”. He added, “It will be years before we catch up.”
For the upcoming campaign, the stadium capacity will vary based on a team’s locale, according to Ricketts. This is currently the case in the NBA, where some teams have no fans due to local health restrictions. others have a limited number.
“We hope that people will be in Wrigley as soon as possible and that they will grow as the summer goes on,” said Ricketts, whose family bought the Cubs in 2009. He acts as the chairman of the team.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, said earlier this month he was optimistic that fans could safely participate in MLB games this summer.
“You might not have a crowded, full-capacity home, but I’m pretty sure that if the infection rate drops as I believe it does, in the summer you can go to the ballpark and watch a game,” Fauci said in an interview with NBC4 in Washington.
Rickett’s appearance on CNBC came the day after bond broker Incapital, which he co-founded, announced a merger with San Francisco-based startup 280 CapMarkets. Ricketts will serve as chairman of the new InspereX company.
“I think it’s one of the few mergers where ‘one plus one’ really equals’ three ‘because it really works that well for both companies,” said Ricketts, explaining that 280 CapMarkets’ “deep expertise” is Municipal bonds that complement Incapital’s traditional focus on the taxable bond market. “Your underwriting and trading in municipal markets adds to everything we’ve ever done.”