CHICAGO — Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday fans will be allowed in Chicago ballparks up to 20 percent capacity for Opening Day.
Lightfoot’s announcement comes after a further easing of COVID-19 restrictions due to sustained progress in reopening metrics., with indoor bars and restaurants opening at 50 percent capacity.
Capacity at Guaranteed Rate Field will be limited to 8,122 fans for Opening Day on April 8, with at least six feet required between parties.
Wrigley Field will be limited to 8,274 fans per game for the start of the season and Opening Day on April 1, with the same distancing required.
Ballparks will remain at 20 percent capacity and are subject to open to more fans as vaccination and recovery efforts continue. Additionally, the city warns an increase in COVID-19 cases can result in an increase in restrictions to curb outbreaks.
“As a diehard sports fan myself, I’m personally excited to have Chicago take its first, cautious steps toward safely reopening our beloved baseball stadiums to fans this season,” said Mayor Lightfoot.
Among the enhancements and operational measures to mitigate COVID-19 risk include:
- Limited contact entry
- Cashless concessions and retail
- Additional restrooms per guest
- Reduced queueing times
- Reconfigured indoor spaces
Charlie Rice-Minoso, son of Sox legend Minnie Minoso, missed being in the stands last year.
“For me, it feels like life is going back to normal,” said Rice-Minoso. “It’s been a great opportunity to see the resilience of our city. but I’m excited that we’re about to come out the other side and see each other safely again.”
After playing in front of no fans last year, the Cubs and Sox have been getting acclimated by playing Spring Training games with limited capacity.
For bars and restaurants that have been suffering, it’s a welcomed change.
“We really need it. I mean we’re desperate,” Sam Sanchez with the Illinois Restaurant Association said. “A lot of restaurants probably won’t come back. And the ones that did survive, it’s not gonna be an easy year.”
While they are still dealing with 50% capacity rules, they now see a light at the end of the tunnel.