A Chicago summer? CPD is planning for it

The Chicago Police Department refused to say what types of major events Mayor Lightfoot is contemplating.

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Festival-goers crowd into Grant Park on day one of Lollapalooza on July 31, 2015.

The Chicago Police Department is planning for summer festivals and other events in case pandemic rules are eased.

Sun-Times file

With vaccinations surging and coronavirus cases dropping, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the Chicago Police Department to prepare security plans for large-scale summer events.

The discussion about police preparations for a return to some sense of normalcy in Chicago this summer came up this week during the mayor’s regular “accountability” meeting with top police brass.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Don Terry refused to say what types of major events the mayor is contemplating. He would only say that CPD is “preparing for the summer for things to open, if they open up.”

“If we continue on this path, with people being vaccinated and the infection rate going down — and if the city opens up — we’re gonna be prepared for what happens in the summer in Chicago,” Terry said Friday.

“We’re gonna be prepared for however much the city is able to open up. We’ll be prepared. We’ll be practicing.”

Summer in Chicago normally means Cubs and Sox games with fans in the stands at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field. It means Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, July 3rd fireworks at Navy Pier and a host of neighborhood festivals.

Terry refused to say which of those events Lightfoot asked CPD to prepare for or at what crowd levels.

He would only say, “We’ll be prepared for whatever comes our way. That’s all I’m gonna say for now. If you want particulars of what the mayor thinks is gonna happen, that has to come from City Hall. I’m not telling you that. Ask that of the mayor.”

Lightfoot talked about the possibility of holding large summer events after joining Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a news conference to announce that the United Center would be used as a mass vaccination site.

“Summer comes to Chicago. So we want to make sure that we’re prepared for any eventuality,” Lightfoot said. “But whether or not we have a summer that looks more like 2019 as opposed to 2020 is gonna be wholly dependent on where we are in the arc of the virus. But obviously, we want to make sure that if we keep trending in the direction that we’re trending, that we’re prepared to open up the city.”

“Obviously, our numbers are looking very good. We’re at the lowest number of positivity, for example, that we’ve been since the start of this pandemic.”

Last summer, the Cubs devised strict protocols they believed would allow as many as 7,000 fans to safely attend games at Wrigley. It called for fans in groups of two, four and six with designated gates and staggered entry and exit windows.

At the time, Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney told the Chicago Sun-Times the Cubs were eager to test their limited capacity plan to “see how the ballpark operates with those rules,” he said.

Time ran out before the city and Major League Baseball could approve the plan. And after winning their division, the Cubs were swept by the Marlins in the first round of the playoffs.

Three months later, Lightfoot said the Bears had presented the city with a plan detailed enough to make her comfortable that fans could safely return to the stands at Soldier Field. But the mayor said she would only allow it when Chicago’s “health metrics” started “trending in a very different direction.”

”I hope that we can get there. I’m a multi-decade Bears fan. And it is different watching it remotely than being in the stadium,” Lightfoot said then.

The week before the mayor made those comments, the Bears had defeated the Carolina Panthers before more than 5,100 fans in Charlotte.

At the time, The Panthers were one of 15 NFL teams playing their home games with fans in the stands.

The Dallas Cowboys topped the list with an average attendance of 24,262 fans, or 24.3% of capacity. That’s followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars, 15,058 fans or 22.2%; the Kansas City Chiefs, 13,978 people or 18.3%; the Houston Texans, 12,257 fans or 17%; and the Miami Dolphins, 11,405 people or 17%.

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