Ricketts' comment was notable because owners and players have key financial discussions looming as they negotiate a return-to-play framework for a 2020 season that has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. Owners have proposed a plan that includes 50-50 revenue sharing, which the union has pushed back against, saying that it's a form of a salary cap.
Under the system of paying players fully pro-rated money, the losses would be too significant in the owners' eyes. MLB owners stand to lose an estimated $4 billion if no baseball is played in 2020, MLB commissioner said on CNN on Thursday.
"This has been a total shutdown of Major League Baseball," Ricketts said. "Unlike the NBA or NHL who had played 80 percent of their seasons, we have played zero. We have to look at how economics will affect the rest of the season. If we are looking at games with no fans, then we do have a real challenge. For the Cubs, about 70 percent of the (gross) revenues come in on the day of games. It comes in through selling tickets, concessions and the ballpark experience (such as parking and merchandise). The other 30 percent comes in through media -- whether it's on Marquee Sports Network, our local media partners and our share of the national media revenues.
"So ultimately, what we are looking at if we can get players into the ballparks is playing a partial season without fans. We are looking at 30 percent of our economics cut in half, so the fact is we must dig deep to find a financial model that works -- the players must feel fairly compensated and ownership doesn't continue to absorb the kind of losses we have so far this season. We are all working diligently toward that. At some point, there will be more discussions. You will hear a lot about it and read a lot about it. It must come down to finding a solution that works for everyone."
Ricketts emphasized players safety is the top priority for the league and owners.
"Every week, the owners have met to talk about how to get baseball back on the field," he said. "We have currently talked about getting back into our home ballparks for this season. That would be without fans. The league has worked very diligently to put into place the most extensive set of protocols, medical safeguards that are out there anywhere. We would be limiting access to the players, limiting access to the number of people in the park. With a strong testing regiment and various other protocols, we can create the safest working environment possible for our players if they are able to come back this summer. We do not have a 100% answer or all clear, but we think the league has created a safe working environment for players to come back to the ballparks. That is very good."