Earlier today, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced some re-opening changes for Phase 4 in the state, including this:
New from @GovPritzker's Phase 4 guidelines: "Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% of seating capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions."— Mark Maxwell (@MarkMaxwellTV) June 22, 2020
Well, that got people all... a-Twitter, for lack of a better term, that “we could see as many as 8,000 fans at Wrigley Field” for potential Cubs games played there this year, 8,000 being about 20 percent of Wrigley Field’s capacity.
That didn’t seem likely to happen. Phase 4 re-openings in the city of Chicago’s plan generally included gatherings of up to 50 people, and it seemed improbable that the city would suddenly jump from permitting a relatively small group of 50 to suddenly allowing 8,000.
And that’s exactly the case, per a news conference later Monday from Mayor Lori Lightfoot:
Lightfoot officially announcing transition to Phase 4 on Friday. Indoor capacity limit is 25 percent or 50. Outdoor now 100 limit. For first time, openings include museums, zoos, performance venues and movie theaters.— Fran Spielman (@fspielman) June 22, 2020
Spectator sports and conventions remain closed.— Fran Spielman (@fspielman) June 22, 2020
And thus, there won’t be any fans at Wrigley Field, or Guaranteed Rate Field for White Sox games, or for that matter Impact Field in Rosemont, home of the Chicago Dogs. The Dogs will be sharing a ballpark in Milwaukee, as I reported here last week.
The reason for this?
Lightfoot says Chicago guidelines are different because city is an air hub and it's a lot denser.— Fran Spielman (@fspielman) June 22, 2020
Look, I understand the desire to go back to ballgames. I miss baseball terribly and I would love nothing more than to spend a nice summer afternoon or evening in the bleachers at Wrigley.
But that’s simply not realistic. Even while Chicago and Illinois have done pretty well with “flattening the curve” and reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in the city and state, cases have jumped in some other cities and states, including some that host multiple MLB teams, such as Florida and Texas. There just doesn’t seem to be any realistic way of getting fans back to ballgames until there’s a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. For that, at best we’re probably looking at early next year, and possibly several months into 2021.
If MLB is to play games this season — and there are multiple reasons why that might not happen — it’ll be in empty ballparks. Not the best solution, but it’s the reality of life in 2020. The Mayor gave some hope for the future, but not for a specific date:
Mayor asked what Phase 4 means to pro sports, if they come back. Lightfoot says she's in constant conversation with teams. A lot of that will be dictated by league offices and unions. She expects them to reopen short term without fans and that, over time, some fans will be there.— Fran Spielman (@fspielman) June 22, 2020
MLB players are supposed to take a vote on the latest offer from MLB owners later Monday afternoon. If there’s further news along these lines I’ll post it when it happens.