The intensity and energy and NOISE at Wrigley Field the last two days have been right up there with any regular season game in recent memory. And that’s at 60% capacity.
“Seems like it’s 100 percent,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said of the atmosphere in the Cubs’ 4-3 win against the Padres Tuesday, per NBCSC. “It’s an amazing feeling to play behind it. It’s amazing you can just look out and see how happy everyone has been back at the ballpark.”
David Ross added in his post-game presser last night that being on the field for ‘Go Cubs Go’ was as loud as he’s heard it, and he’s “heard some loud ones.”
Now imagine what it would be like if Wrigley Field were actually back to 100% capacity. It’s coming at some point this summer, but the precise timeline is not clear, and the Cubs – together with the White Sox – are reportedly frustrated about that:
The crowds on both sides of Chicago have been into their first place teams — Wrigley was rocking tonight — but when will they be open for 100 percent capacity? Both teams are frustrated with the city. Story here: https://t.co/zPcomQvNMi
— Jesse Rogers (@JesseRogersESPN) June 2, 2021
The State of Illinois is on track to enter Phase 5 of its transition process in the pandemic on June 11, which would remove capacity restrictions at large venues like Wrigley Field. The Cubs open a weekend series against the Cardinals on June 11, so you can understand why they would be especially eager to participate in the state’s full reopening.
The challenge, though, is that the Cubs and White Sox don’t operate only in the State of Illinois, they also operate in the City of Chicago. The City’s reopening plans have felt more like a moving target, with only rough suggestions about when the restrictions will be off. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has, at different times, suggested maybe July 4 for an end of restrictions, or maybe July 1. But never June 11, at least not that I’ve seen. That first week of July has generally been the range I’ve seen.
But with the state ending restrictions much sooner, with many MLB teams going to full attendance capacity this month, and with a lot of attendance having already been lost to this point, the Cubs and Sox want to proceed on the state’s timeline. Both teams are quite good, have a push of fan enthusiasm, and I get where they’re coming from. I also get the desire to proceed as cautiously as necessary in the reopening. We’re all eager to get back to normal, but obviously we’re still in a mode of trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible. There’s a balance, and I don’t necessarily feel equipped to say precisely what is the right timeline here. Read the ESPN piece for more details on that front.
After today, including that Cardinals series that starts on June 11, the Cubs have just eight home dates left in June. They aren’t even home for the Fourth of July weekend series against the Reds. So, in reality, if the City doesn’t fully reopen until July 4, the Cubs wouldn’t quite be crushed, relative to a full reopening on June 11.