This would seem a massive bit of news today from the Governor of Illinois, where the state is on track to move into Phase 4 of its reopening on Friday thanks to success in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
This would theoretically mean some fans at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate as soon as the season starts:
New from @GovPritzker's Phase 4 guidelines: "Outdoor spectator sports can resume with no more than 20% of seating capacity; concessions permitted with restrictions."
— Mark Maxwell (@MarkMaxwellTV) June 22, 2020
As we said when this was the case with Texas, just because a locality permits some version of attendance, that doesn’t mean MLB will permit it or that the individual teams will decide to proceed right now. There was a report that MLB was inclined to let the Texas teams have fans in attendance if the state permitted it, but who knows where that stands now with cases spiking.
Localities increasingly permitting some capacity of fans at games (it isn’t just Texas and Illinois) was always one of the biggest hurdles here, so this nevertheless seems extremely significant.
So if fans can be permitted at Cubs and White Sox games (among others), will the teams open up a bit? Will that fundamentally change the financial calculus on the season? You know, the very thing the players and owners are LITERALLY DECIDING AS I TYPE?
This is all so rapid and fresh and ever-changing that I am not going to dig in too deeply on what this actually means. Things could change in a second, and games might not even be played anyway. But apparently, it’s more possible than ever that the Cubs *could* host some fans at Wrigley Field this year.
UPDATE: The Mayor has offered her perspective, and it’s a bit of a wait-and-see (which isn’t really an issue for MLB, since no games are even possible before the end of July anyway):
Lightfoot hopes over time the city will be in a place to see fans in stands at stadiums & other venues.
She says city continues to work w/IHSA about CPS sports reopening for summer practices.
She emphasizes Phase 4 won’t be “static” w/ progression based on health care metrics.
— Josh Frydman (@Josh_Frydman) June 22, 2020