CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are among several teams across Major League Baseball yet to be approved for 100% capacity, and both organizations are not happy about it, sources familiar with them told ESPN.
There’s growing frustration among the teams with the city of Chicago, sources said, even with the state of Illinois having approved a move to its final phase of reopening on June 11. That would allow businesses to operate at full capacity, but the city of Chicago has to sign off before the Cubs and White Sox can welcome full crowds back.
Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot has indicated July 4 as an opening day of sorts for the city in past news conferences, but she has given few details and hasn’t informed businesses like the Cubs and White Sox of a reopening plan. Both teams would like an earlier date for full capacity.
“Currently, Chicago is in the Bridge Phase of its reopening plan, and seated spectator events remain at 60% capacity,” the mayor’s office said in a statement to ESPN. “Capacity limits will lift once Chicago enters Phase 5. The COVID data has been very promising of late, and we continue to watch it closely as we consider next steps.”
Added a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Health via email: “We continue to watch the data every day, and while the [health] commissioner has said several times we’re doing well, we haven’t committed to a date yet.”
Some teams have been approved for 100% capacity even in locations that have been slow to reopen. The Washington Nationals will allow for full houses beginning on June 10; the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 15; and the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers on June 25.
The day the state of Illinois plans to reach Phase 5 — June 11 — is also the start of a weekend series at Wrigley Field between the Cubs and rival St. Louis Cardinals. Season-ticket holders, who have been displaced from their regular seats during the reopening phases, are awaiting word if they can return to the seats they’ve paid for, while some are demanding refunds, according to sources, if the state won’t approve a return to full capacity.
The White Sox are in the same position with their ticket holders, though they’ve already sold seats at 60% capacity for the next couple of home series. They’re awaiting word on a homestand beginning on June 25. The White Sox are expecting huge crowds this summer while fielding the best team they’ve had in years.
Like many other hospitality-oriented businesses around the country, it’s taking more effort than usual for the White Sox and Cubs to hire stadium workers, sources said. The uncertainty is leaving the teams little room to maneuver, if and when the city approves 100% capacity at their ballparks.
According to sources familiar with a survey completed by the Cubs to 2,000 of their season-ticket holders, 96% of respondents said they are fully vaccinated. It wasn’t immediately clear what those numbers were looking like for the White Sox.