Chicago could potentially see the return of some fans into the stands, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday, as the city prepares for baseball season to kick off.
"Not at this time, but I think there will be a point sometime this season where you'll see fans in the stands of both Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate field, which I still call Sox Park," Lightfoot said.
The Cubs are set to kick off their home opener at Wrigley Field on April 1, while the White Sox are scheduled to return home on April 8 after starting their season on the road.
Lightfoot's comments come as some fans begin to return to stands in places long shut down, like Barclays Center in New York.
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"What I've said before is that we're in discussions with both of the sports teams," Lightfoot said. "I think they've come up with a very good plans and when we are ready, we will announce what the future will look like for other potential spectators in the stands."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week said discussions were also "underway" for Illinois.
"I don't want to jump ahead of this process. I mean, honestly, we are relying upon the epidemiologists as well as the, you know, figuring out how we can practically get that done," Pritzker said Friday. "We all are very, very hopeful that the numbers - as they have really done well in the state of Illinois so far - keep going that way. But you know, Sen. [Dick] Durbin talked about the other variants that are out there. And so we just want to be wary and careful about what we do. But but certainly those discussions are continuing."
Earlier in February, Dr. Allison Arwady, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that while the city is making “good progress,” sports teams were still likely “months away” from allowing fans to attend games.
Currently, the Chicago Bulls and Blackhawks are playing home games at the United Center, with no fans allowed in the building.
The Cubs and White Sox played their 2020 seasons without fans in the stands, and the Chicago Bears did the same at Soldier Field, with no fans in attendance at any of their eight home games.
Each of the teams said they are keeping in close contact with health officials about the situation. Some other franchises have begun to allow fans in a limited capacity at their games, including several NHL and NBA teams.
At the same time, Chicago's major sporting arenas are also being considered for mass vaccination sites.
The United Center will become a federally-run mass vaccination site beginning next month, officials announced Friday.
For a look at who is eligible to be vaccinated at the United Center under Phase 1B Plus, click here.
Chicago health officials had previously said they were also looking into creating mass vaccination sites at several sports stadiums once supply to the city is increased.
Arwady said earlier this month that the department also looked into hosting mass-vaccination sites at Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, but planned to wait until the city’s allotment of vaccines increases.
“We are completely ready to stand up mass vaccination sites, but it’s about vaccine,” she said during a Facebook Live.
While Arwady previously said that fans won’t be allowed into buildings yet, she also added she is “optimistic” that the city is approaching the day when supporters will once again be able to head to arenas and stadiums to cheer on their favorite teams.