Virtual Crowd Noise Likely On Cubs' TV Broadcasts

The Cubs will probably insert virtual crowd noise on television until fans are back.

Dan Bernstein Show
June 25, 2020 - 12:27 pm
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(670 The Score) The Cubs will likely insert limited virtual crowd noise in television broadcasts so long as fans are prohibited from attending games at Wrigley Field, president of business operations Crane Kenney said.

The Cubs' goal is to keep the insertion of virtual elements limited, believing that best fits their organization's approach and the character of their historic ballpark. But a broadcast without any crowd noise could be "jarring," as Kenney put it.

"That's been a great debate inside our building," Kenney said on the Dan Bernstein Show on Thursday. "We're all watching on the various sports that are back on, whether it's the PGA, Bundesliga, the KBO. So we're watching the various technologies that have been applied. To be honest, like everything, we feel like we have a little bit more of an added burden at Wrigley. It's a burden and a blessing, obviously, in that we're really, really concerned about the presentation of our games -- whether it's the renovation of the ballpark and making sure the historic character is not disturbed and all the way to Gallagher Way and our desire to make sure it fits in with our experience at Wrigley Field. I think, honestly, some of the things we've seen used, we'll say quote-unquote to enhance the broadcast, don't fit for a franchise like the Cubs in a ballpark like Wrigley Field. And we probably would not do them. I think the audio without any, we'll call it white noise or the insertion of fan noise, is a little jarring for the television viewer. And so you'll probably see some virtual insertion of some of the crowd noise. But in terms of cardboard cut-outs and some of the other things you've said, I don't think you'll see that happening with us. And then obviously, if we can bring fans into the ballpark, there's nothing better than the real thing. Even if it's a smaller crowd -- like in Gov. (J.B.) Pritzker's proposal, 8,000 -- we would let that play. Cubs fans, even 8,000 of them, can make quite a bit of noise."

The Cubs do expect fans to be allowed inside Wrigley Field at a reduced capacity at some point in the 2020 season, which is set to begin July 23 or July 24. The catch is that while the state has eased restrictions to allow up to 20% capacity at outdoor stadiums and venues, the city of Chicago still hasn't given such clearance.

Listen to Kenney's full interview below.