coronavirus illinois

Lightfoot Hopes to See Fans Return to Sports Venues Later This Year

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Under Phase Four guidelines in the “Restore Illinois” plan, sporting events can have fans fill up to 20 percent of the venue’s capacity, but don’t expect fans to be back in the stands right away in Chicago.

According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, venues in Chicago will “remain closed” to fans at this time, but she hopes that things will change sooner rather than later.

“My expectation in the short term is that they will reopen without fans in the stands. My hope is that we can get to a place where we can see some fans in the seats in stadiums and other venues,” she said. “Because of where we are in the arc of the virus, industries that require very large gatherings, such as spectator sports and conventions, will remain closed at this time.”

Lightfoot’s comments come as Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled new guidelines for Phase Four of the state’s coronavirus reopening plan. Under those guidelines, sports venues are allowed to have 20 percent occupancy, but Chicago will opt to go with stricter guidelines in the near future.

The mayor says part of the reason for the hesitation to allow fans back into the stands comes from professional sports leagues, who have largely said they will resume play without spectators.

“They’re being smart, they’re being prudent, just like we are,” she said. “Their most valuable assets are their players, and we want to be sure when they’re reopening that the players have confidence that their health is being protected, and I think in the short term that means playing without fans in the stands.”

Some sports, including the PGA Tour and NASCAR, have resumed their seasons. Spectators are still being kept off of golf courses for regular tour events, and will not be allowed at the PGA Championship in California in August.

NASCAR’s race at Talladega this week was the first event on their calendar to allow limited spectator seating since the resumption of racing earlier this year.

Both the NBA and NHL plan to resume their seasons in neutral site venues, without fans in the stands.

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