Mayor Lori Lightfoot says she could see MLB games played in Chicago this summer — but ‘probably’ with no fans in the stands

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CHICAGO — A game that counts in the Major League Baseball standings with the atmosphere of a simulated game?

That’s a potential scenario at Guaranteed Rate Field and Wrigley Field, as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she could envision the White Sox and Cubs playing home games this year with one caveat.

“Is it likely to be without fans? Probably,” Lightfoot said at her daily news conference.

Lightfoot, a Sox fan, has been at the forefront of the city’s “stay-at-home” policy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. That statewide order has been extended through May 30.

Lightfoot said a decision on whether professional sports will return would be made “at the major-league level” but said she could see baseball being played this summer.

Major League Baseball is determined to play at least a semblance of a regular season after suspending spring training March 12 and postponing the start of the season.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association have explored several alternatives to a normal 162-game season, from all 30 teams playing in Arizona to splitting into two leagues determined by teams’ spring training sites to having a three-league alignment in Texas, Florida and Arizona, according to

All three states haven’t enforced rules as stringent as Illinois, where reopening the two major-league ballparks remains “a ways away from that because we haven’t seen the level of cases decline on a consistent basis,” Lightfoot said. “We’re still seeing them rise.”

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked about Lightfoot’s comments at his daily news conference.

“Listen, I want to watch a baseball game,” Pritzker said. “But I also know that’s going to be a decision both for the leagues … and, importantly, I think they, like me, are relying upon the scientists, epidemiologists to help them figure out how do you do that in a safe fashion.

“Do you need to test all the players before they go on the field? Can they really, in contact sports … how do you do that if you’re supposed to maintain some social distance? Those are all things that are above my pay grade, so to speak, and something that needs to be considered by the leagues and the scientists.”

Wrigley’s main concourse has served as a satellite station for the Lakeview Pantry since April 16, and the adjacent Hotel Zachary is lodging medical workers who are treating coronavirus patients.

The Cubs and Sox have assured employees of their paychecks at least through May 29.

Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations, told the team’s Marquee Sports Network that the Cubs are committed to helping those affected by the coronavirus and that the virus will dictate when play resumes.

The potential lack of fans would mean no opportunities to sell concessions, and MLB and MLBPA officials might be at odds over player compensation should play resume.

The sides reached an agreement a month ago for players to receive their prorated salaries if play resumes. MLB, according to reports, stressed that deal was under the assumption games would be played with fans in the stands.

Agent Scott Boras, however, told the New York Post the agreement remains firm with or without fans in attendance.


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