While a final decision regarding the 2020 season should be coming any day now from Major League Baseball and the Players Association, we have some interesting local developments to ponder over. Governor JB Pritzker announced Phase 4 of his Restore Illinois plan this morning and revealed some pretty significant news.
The new 20% capacity guidelines, set to be made official on Friday with the implementation of Phase 4, would mean the White Sox could theoretically allow a maximum of 8,123 fans per game into Guaranteed Rate Field this summer, assuming there is a season. While this seems to be one major hurdle passed, it will now likely fall into the hands of the club and ultimately Major League Baseball to decide whether or not fans will actually be permitted.
This was previously a topic for conversation earlier in the month when Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that teams in his state could allow up to 50% capacity at their home stadiums. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported that the league was inclined to allow the local government to take precedence over the matter. BUT, that was on June 4th and we have since seen a recent spike in COVID-19 that’s infiltrated its way into organizations like the Phillies and Yankees, and forcing the temporary closure of all Major League spring training camps.
It’s still way too early to tell what will come of this if anything. My initial hunch is that both the individual teams and Major League Baseball will lean towards the side of caution to start, but who knows what will happen. We’ve seen how rapidly this virus can shut down everything in a matter of hours and days, so it’s really hard to predict anything with confidence. At the very least, we can take solace in knowing the possibility exists to attend tailgates and games on the South Side this season.
UPDATE (2:30 PM CST): Major Lori Lightfoot has revealed in a press conference this afternoon that the city of Chicago will not be allowing capacity crowds just yet.
“Unfortunately, because of where we are in the arc of the virus, industries that require very large gatherings such as spectator sports and conventions will at this time remain closed in the city of Chicago.”
This is a perfect example of how fluid this situation really is, and the number of obstacles it has to overcome. On a positive note, the 2020 season probably wouldn’t begin until the last week of July at the earliest, so time remains for Lightfoot to reverse her decision if conditions allow.
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