Major League Baseball

Lightfoot Sees Baseball Returning This Summer in Chicago, but Without Fans

NBCUniversal, Inc.

More than a month has passed since the Major League Baseball season was set to begin, but Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she can “envision a world” where players will return to the diamond this season.

The MLB season, currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, was supposed to begin in late March, and although it seems extremely unlikely that play will begin any time soon, Lightfoot expressed some optimism on Monday.

“We've had ongoing conversations about what (opening the season) might look like,” she said. “We're obviously a ways away from that, because we haven't seen the level of cases decline on a consistent basis. We're still seeing them rise. But can I envision a world where a baseball might return to Chicago this summer? Yes. Is it likely to be without fans? Probably.”

In a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan Monday, he indicated that league officials and players are growing increasingly confident that the sport will be able to resume in time for baseball to be played this season.

“Over the past two weeks, as states have begun to plan their re-openings, nearly everyone along the decision-making continuum – league officials, players, union leaders, owners, doctors, politicians, TV power brokers, team executives – has grown increasingly optimistic that there will be baseball this year,” Passan wrote.

Playing without fans is one of many different options that the league is considering for this season. Reports have indicated that the league has considered centralizing all of its teams and players into one region, specifically in Arizona, to play games in a controlled environment, while other reports have suggested the league would separate teams into several different “hubs” to get the season underway.

Still other reports have indicated the league would consider playing games in all 30 MLB stadiums, but without fans and with increased social distancing guidelines.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says that he is eager for baseball to return, but that the decision to restart the league must be signed off on by experts both within the league and within the scientific community.

“I’m a fan and I would really like baseball to go on, but I also know that is going to be a decision for both the leagues and, more importantly, they, like me, are relying on scientists and epidemiologists to determine how you do that in a safe fashion,” he said. “Do you need to test the players before they go on the field? In contact sports, how do you play when you’re supposed to maintain social distance?”

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