Chicago’s two Major League Baseball teams, the White Sox and the Cubs, will be able to stage games at 20% capacity when the new season gets underway next month.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the announcement yesterday (Monday) as part of the city’s ‘Open Chicago’ efforts. Mayor Lightfoot, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health and MLB, evaluated capacity and restrictions to ensure fans can safely return.

The announcement was welcomed by the White Sox, with the team confirming yesterday that Guaranteed Rate Field would reopen with fans in physically distanced seating pods. Mobile ticketing will be in use for contactless entry and contact tracing, while mandatory mask wearing and other health protocols will also be introduced.

The Cubs will also be able to open Wrigley Field (pictured) at 20% capacity and the team said it would have an opportunity to increase this throughout the year. The team has developed a detailed plan for welcoming players, staff and fans back to the stadium, with pod-style seating, touchless entry, mobile ticketing and cashless concessions to all form part of the experience.

Guaranteed Rate Field has a capacity of just over 40,000, meaning that around 8,122 fans will be allowed with the 20% attendance cap. Wrigley Field normally seats 41,374 fans and its 20% attendance cap will allow for 8,274 fans in the stands.

Mayor Lightfoot said: “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.

“We’re able to do that thanks to the commitment of our city’s two great baseball franchises who continue to work in close partnership with Chicago’s public health officials to find solutions that are not only safe, but offer a path forward toward safely increasing stadium capacity as we move closer into our COVID-19 recovery.”

The possibility of more fans being able to attend games will be dependent on the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and the wider recovery effort surrounding the pandemic. An increase in COVID-19 cases could also result in ballparks closing to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

Image: Rex Hammock/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size