Lightfoot can see baseball returning to Chicago this summer, but without fans

The mayor is a die-hard White Sox fan and season ticket holder at Guaranteed Rate Field. But if she’s right, she won’t use those tickets this summer, when the revamped Sox were expected to make a strong push for the playoffs.

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Mayor-Elect Lori Lightfoot stands on the field before throwing out the first pitch for the White Sox home opener against the Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday, April 5, 2019.

Last year, as mayor-elect, Lori Lightfoot threw out the first pitch at the White Sox home opener. This year’s season is in doubt, due to the pandemic.

Sun-Times file

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she can envision the Cubs and her beloved White Sox playing baseball at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field sometime this summer. But it’s likely to be an eerie, lonely, made-for-television affair.

A Sox season-ticket holder, Lightfoot said a decision on when and how baseball will return will be made “at the league level,” not by individual team owners, nor by the governors and mayors of individual states and cities.

But she acknowledged having “ongoing conversations” with the owners of both teams about “what that might look like.”

“We’re obviously a ways away from that because we haven’t seen the level of cases decline on a consistent basis. We’re still seeing them rise,” the mayor said.

“But can I envision a world where baseball might return to Chicago this summer? Yes. Is it likely to be without fans? Probably.”

During a City Hall news conference called to announce a new city app tied to the pandemic, Lightfoot also was asked whether she has any intention of re-opening the lakefront as the governor’s stay-at-home order drags on through the month of May.

“I don’t anticipate doing that,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot also was asked about following the lead of New York City, which is opening 40 miles of city streets for public use.

The mayor did not answer the question directly. She simply talked about a long drive she took around the city on a bright and sunny Sunday and being pleased with what she saw in terms of people maintaining social distance.

“People seem to be doing fine. I’m not seeing overcrowding in interior parks that was a concern when we closed down the lakefront. I think people are taking this restriction on movement in stride,” she said.

“No one thinks that this is something that will go on forever. But I think people recognize [the need] because we’ve been very up-front and transparent about why it’s necessary. What a difference it’s making. How we’ve lengthened the period of time in which cases are doubling.”

As temperatures rise, spring fever spreads and cabin fever intensifies, Lightfoot said it’s imperative for the city to stay engaged, keep listening and remain “physically out there and seeing what the needs of residents are.”

“We’ll make adjustments where necessary,” she said.

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