CHICAGO – Chicago will lift some coronavirus restrictions in time for MLB Opening Day, allowing fans to attend games at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field for the first time in more than a year.
The rules, announced Monday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration, will go into effect April 1, Cubs Opening Day. The White Sox’s first home game is April 8.
“As a die-hard sports fan,” Lightfoot said, “I am personally excited that Chicago is taking its cautious first steps toward safely reopening our beloved ballparks to fans this season.”
Capacity will initially be limited to 20 percent for each location with at least six feet between parts. At Wrigley Field, the oldest ballpark in the National League, attendance will be limited to 8,274 fans per game. The Cubs did not report positive tests for COVID-19 among their players in the 2020 season.
“Nothing can replace the energy and enthusiasm that our beloved fans bring to Friendly Confines in each and every game,” Cubs CEO Tom Ricketts said. “We are ready and excited for our long awaited Wrigley Field reunion.”
In the guaranteed rate field, capacity will be limited to 8,122 fans.
“We believe this is a time when baseball can once again serve our fans and communities as we all look forward to a gradual return to normalcy,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, president of the White Sox.
Lightfoot credited both teams for working closely with city public health officials to develop a plan to safely host fans that will also “provide a path toward safely increasing stadium capacity as We are approaching our recovery from COVID-19. ” The city determined that it was appropriate to reopen to a limited number of fans, citing “low to moderate risk levels” for the positivity of tests, cases and ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.
The Cubs and White Sox will include new measures designed to comply with local mandates and decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission, including limiting entry to ballparks, cashless concessions and merchandise sales and the reduction of rows once inside. Everyone must wear a mask.
With Chicago’s announcement and California’s decision on Friday to allow ballparks, among other outdoor venues, to allow fans, at least 25 of the league’s 30 teams have announced fans in the stands for the opening day. According to the Wall Street Journal, roughly 40 percent of baseball teams’ annual revenue is derived from stadium experience, such as ticket sales and concessions.
“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank Mayor Lightfoot for her shared commitment to the responsible resumption of fan attendance in Chicago, under protocols designed to promote safety,” said Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. “MLB will continue to urge fans to follow best health and safety practices in the fight against COVID-19.”