Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago's professional sports teams joined forces to announce a new campaign called "We're Not Playing" on Monday, aimed at pushing residents to continue staying home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lightfoot announced the new initiative from Soldier Field, home of the Bears and the Chicago Fire.
"We love our sports in Chicago and we'd rather be here in Soldier Field or Wrigley or Sox Park or at the United Center or Wintrust, cheering on our players and having a good time with our friends," she said at a news conference. "But as we know, this crisis has changed almost everything, and particularly our sports."
"Coming to these parks now would be dangerous and deadly to ourselves and to our city," Lightfoot continued.
The campaign will roll out across Chicago beginning Monday, Lightfoot's office said in a statement, with digital and social media advertisements followed by celebrity athlete videos posted on social media.
Lightfoot played a preview of the campaign on the jumbotron at Soldier Field, featuring several Chicago athletes urging residents in both English and Spanish to stay at home during the pandemic.
"Hey Chicago, if you haven't noticed, we're not playing and you shouldn't be either," says Alyssa Mautz of the Chicago Red Stars.
"As much as you want to see us play, and as much as we want to play for you, we need your help to get back on the court," the Bulls' Coby White adds.
"Let's do our part, let's stick together, let's stay home and help save lives," Blackhawks star Jonathan Toews said.
"This is all about making sure that we can educate people and particularly educate people in compliance about the stay-at-home order," Lightfoot said, recalling being around a group of teenagers during NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago who had barely heard of veteran players like Muggsy Bogues.
"But the minute Zach LaVine walked in the room, it was like the light had shined brightly," Lightfoot recalled. "So we know that in thinking about this 'stay home, save lives' campaign, we've got to use multi, many campaigns and a lot of different tools so we're reaching every segment of our population."
"This is a disease that doesn't discriminate," she continued. "And young people, I remember back in the day thinking nothing could stop me, that I was invincible. And so we can get credible messengers, like sports athletes who can really reach sports fans, but also young people in particular - that's why we're activating this group of people."
When asked if it was time for sports teams to play without fans, Lightfoot noted that she thought "we're not at that point yet."
"I know that the various sports leagues are talking about a variety of different options, depending on how long the public health personnel believe that we need to be reducing the size of crowds," she said. "This has had a profound effect on who we are as a people - we are a great sports town. We have tremendous sports fans, not only here in Chicago, but across the U.S. and the world that follow our teams because they are good and strong."