Cubs management expressed optimism on Thursday that fans may be able to catch a game at Wrigley Field this year, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she needs to see a safety plan in order for that to happen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
During an interview with 670 The Score’s Dan Bernstein, Cubs’ President of Business Operations Crane Kenney said seats may be available at games on the North Side in a limited capacity to allow for social distancing along with other safety measures in place.
“We’re fortunate to have some of the best medical professionals in our city helping us, both from Advocate and Northwestern. I’ll give credit to the City’s health department as well,” said Kenney.
“There was always a path to bring fans back to Wrigley, obviously, a much smaller group than would normally attend games. The fact that Governor Pritzker ahead of us was obviously a good sign. We’re working with the city, having great conversations with the Mayor’s staff on this topic. We know our fans, if safe and if it can be done with the right precautions, would love to come back to the ballpark. We do see that happening this year.”
However, hours later, Lightfoot said those specific conversations to welcome fans back to the Friendly Confines, while welcome, have not happened.
“That's a discussion that we have not had with any of the major sports teams in that level of specificity,” Lightfoot said during her press briefing on Thursday. “We have yet to hear from the club specifically about what is your plan for safety.”
In his radio interview, Kenney said the team is looking at welcoming back about 8,200 fans to the stands adding that they're looking at requiring different safety measures like mandatory masks and implementing social distancing, parts of a plan Lightfoot said she has yet to see.
“Whether it's a thousand, or 800, or 80, there's got to be a plan for safety and we're happy to engage in that discussion with all the sports teams,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve got to do it in a way that makes sure that when those fans are queued up outside the venues, when they're in the venues, and when they're leaving, that there's a plan to keep them safe and minimize the risk of COVID spread.”
On Tuesday, Major League Baseball announced a plan to return to play after the league’s Players Association agreed upon health and safety protocols that MLB said will guide it’s return.
The proposed 60-game regular-season schedule is expected to begin July, which would allow Lightfoot and the Cubs as well as White Sox approximately one month to create a plan that would allow fans to enjoy games in-person.
“We're happy and anxious to engage in that conversation, whether it's the Cubs or my beloved White Sox, whether it's the Bears because it'll be football season soon-- same thing with high school sports,” Lightfoot said. “This is a conversation that is right for us to have and make sure that there are real plans in place to get it done.”