When professional baseball opened up in Taiwan earlier this year, some of the teams provided something in the stands other than empty seats — cardboard cutouts of fans, as shown above. It was a fun idea, and last week the San Francisco Giants told their season-ticket holders they’d be following that lead:
The Giants have told season ticket holders that they won't have fans at games this year. They will have a Fan Cutout Program, allowing them to submit an image to be placed in the stands during home games.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) June 26, 2020
A similar program was announced by the Oakland Athletics Tuesday:
Fans can virtually be at A’s game this season with Coliseum Cutouts pic.twitter.com/kmNvmDnJKu— AthleticsPR (@AthleticsPR) June 30, 2020
As noted in the A’s release, the cost is $49 for “access members” (that’s essentially equivalent to a season-ticket holder) and $89 for almost everyone else, unless you want to “sit” in the “Foul Ball Zone,” where it’s $129 — and there’s a reason for that:
If a cutout in the Foul Ball Zone gets hit with a foul ball, we will send the ball to that fan!
This is a fantastic idea and the Cubs should follow suit. I’d absolutely do it, and I’m pretty sure others would, perhaps even enough to fill Wrigley Field with cutouts. The A’s are sending proceeds to the Oakland A’s Community Fund, which is a classy idea.
Though the Cubs have stated they “hope” to have fans in the stands at Wrigley Field this year, I don’t believe it will be safe to have even the 20 percent capacity now permitted in some parts of Illinois per the Phase 4 re-opening announced by Gov. JB Pritzker last week. The City of Chicago isn’t permitting that size of gathering at this time and Mayor Lori Lightfoot stated last week that discussions about fans in the stands at the city’s two ballparks haven’t even happened yet.
Thus I say to the Cubs: Follow the lead that began in Taiwan and is now going to be in place in the Bay Area. Have a cardboard (or whatever material is best for these) cutout program for Wrigley Field this year. The 2020 baseball season is going to be different than any seen before. Why not have it that way for “fans,” too?