Source: Plan is for Cubs, Sox to host some fans Opening Day originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It may not be too long before Chicago baseball fans are allowed back into stadiums.
According to NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan, citing a source from the City of Chicago, the plan is for fans to be allowed into Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field starting with Opening Day.
The Cubs open the season at home against the Pirates on April 1, while the White Sox home opener is April 8 against the Royals.
The Cubs and White Sox, as well as every MLB team, played the entire 2020 regular season without fans at their games. Spectators were only allowed in attendance for the NLCS and World Series, hosted at a neutral site, the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field.
While fans have been allowed back into some stadiums across the country in recent months, none of Chicago's professional sports teams have hosted spectators since last March, prior to COVID-19 shutting down leagues. With Chicago's coronavirus positivity rate declining in recent weeks, the question of whether fans could return to games has been discussed.
"We're discussing that, working on that, IDPH as well as other doctors and of course, the teams themselves," said Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday when asked whether fans could soon be allowed into stadiums at limited capacity. "So that's a discussion that's been underway for some time."
Could that be in the next month?
"I don't want to jump ahead of this process. I mean, honestly, we are relying upon the epidemiologists as well as figuring out how we can practically get that done," Pritzker added. "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. 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 certainly those discussions are continuing."
Professional athletes in the past year have discussed the challenge of playing without fans and the energy they bring to stadiums, including Cubs shortstop Javy Báez.
"It was the worst, to be honest," Báez said of fan-less games in 2020. "It was worse than facing a pitcher in spring training in the backfield, to be honest. I didn't like it at all."