After nearly four months, the Chicago Dogs will become the first professional sports team in Illinois to play a home game on Tuesday night when they welcome the Milwaukee Milkmen to Impact Field.
The Dogs, a member of the American Association of Independent Baseball, play their home games in Rosemont, and unlike many other sports franchises, they will be allowing fans into the seats at their home ballpark for Tuesday’s game.
Of course, there are some fairly significant changes that fans will notice when they make their way through the turnstiles. Impact Field, which normally can seat up to 7,000 fans, will only allow 1,400 fans to attend games, complying with the state’s requirement to limit sporting event capacity to 20 percent under the conditions of Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” plan.
Once inside the ballpark, fans will be required to maintain adequate physical distancing from other groups of fans. Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the stadium, and if fans need to get out of their seats for any reason during the game, they will be required to wear masks, according to the team.
Even with all the precautions the league has been taking the Dogs have already had a brush with the coronavirus this season, as at least one player for the Milkmen tested positive before a Sunday game between the two teams, forcing the contest to be postponed.
The Dogs are 1-1 on the young season, winning their opener on Friday and then dropping their second game on Saturday.
The American Association’s season looks significantly different than previous years, with several teams sitting out due to coronavirus concerns. In all, six of the league’s 12 teams are currently playing games. The Dogs were originally set to play their games in Milwaukee, but when the state said that sporting events could resume under Phase Four of the “Restore Illinois” plan, the decision was quickly made to move home games back to Impact Field.
Other sports have resumed play already, including the National Women’s Soccer League. The Chicago Red Stars have played several games this season, but have been in Utah for the season’s opening tournament, meaning that the Dogs are the first professional sports team in Illinois to play home games since the coronavirus pandemic stopped the NBA and NHL seasons in mid-March.