As several cities and states announce attendance guidelines for the upcoming MLB season, Chicago remains in limbo. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that the city will allow fans in 2021 and said both teams had presented compelling cases, but she declined to offer any specifics as to percentages or timelines. Cubs Insider subsequently learned from an anonymous source with knowledge of the situation that the mayor was leaning against allowing fans at the start of the season.
That runs contrary to an earlier report from David Kaplan that “some fans” would be in attendance starting with opening day, but the the situation may be very fluid. According to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, the Cubs and White Sox made a joint proposal for 30% capacity.
“The Cubs and Sox together put a presentation together for the state of Illinois and city of Chicago , they’re waiting to hear back,” Rogers told ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy on Thursday. “The proposal was for 30% attendance on April 1, it’s a little bit over 12,000 at each stadium.”
The Cardinals announced Thursday that they will be hosting fans at a 32% capacity (15,000), which feels like a nod to the olden days of low-ABC beer. On the other side of Mizzou, the Royals will host 10,000 fans at home games. The Brewers can welcome up to 12,000 at the newly-minted American Family Field, which is actually the only effective way for them to limit the number of Cubs fans at the park.
It would seem that having other teams in relatively close geographical proximity and in the same division is a good indicator of what the Cubs would be allowed to do, but there are examples that say otherwise. The Tigers are only being allowed 1,000 fans and the Nationals will play in an empty ballpark at least until the city reevaluates the situation later in the month.
Chicago could opt for a similar strategy, even though the city recently opened up the lakefront and other outdoor venues while also increasing capacity to 50% for indoor restaurants and bars. Perhaps the mayor’s office sees Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate as different situations due to the increased number of people utilizing public transportation and the resultant congestion in the respective areas.
I’m not here to justify any potentially disappointing decisions, just trying to think about why it’d be different for open-air ballparks than other areas. The 30% ask does seem a little bit lofty, but you always want to ask for more than you figure you’ll end up getting. Here’s to hoping our information from earlier was incorrect or that the mayor changes her mind here soon.