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The city will allow about 8,000 people to attend upcoming Cubs and White Sox baseball games.
Chicago baseball fans will be able to return to ballparks with limited capacity and other public health guidelines—including mask requirements—in place, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.
Guaranteed Rate Field, where the White Sox play, and Wrigley Field, home to the Chicago Cubs will open at 20% capacity on each team’s opening day in early April under the plan, which is part of the city’s coronavirus response effort.
Full capacity at Guaranteed Rate Field is just over 40,000, so the reopening will be limited to about 8,100 fans. Wrigley Field has a normal capacity of about 41,000, and attendance there will be limited to about 8,270 people. The plan calls for keeping at least 6 feet of distance between fans in different parties while they’re at the games.
Other states are taking similar steps—and in some cases going much further. In Texas, for instance, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans last week to scrap a statewide mask mandate and allow businesses to operate at full capacity, saying it was time to reopen Texas “100%.”
California officials, meanwhile, outlined plans to begin a limited and gradual reopening of stadiums, theme parks and outdoor venues.
Several states have also previously allowed fans inside major sports venues during the pandemic. Notably, in Tampa, Florida, Raymond James Stadium hosted about 25,000 Super Bowl spectators in February.
Lightfoot, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health and Major League Baseball, evaluated capacity and restrictions to ensure fans will have a safe experience when they return to the city's ballparks this season, officials said
“As a diehard sports fan myself, I’m personally excited to have Chicago take its first, cautious steps toward safely reopening our beloved baseball stadiums to fans,” the mayor said.
Officials said that ballparks could potentially open to even more fans as Covid-19 vaccinations and other pandemic recovery efforts continue. But, on the flip side, an increase in local coronavirus cases could result in further restriction on attendance.
Opening day for the Cubs is April 1. The White Sox home opener is April 8.
Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.