Cubs’ Tom Ricketts: Limiting COVID-19 risk goes beyond ‘number of seats’

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Maddie Lee
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Tom Ricketts on how Cubs are limiting COVID-19 risk at Wrigley originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Going to games at Wrigley Field this season won’t be like years past. And not just because the season is scheduled to open with the ballpark at 20% capacity.

“We certainly have collaborated with the White Sox and other teams locally,” Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said as member of a sports business panel held virtually on Wednesday. “There's a presidents group that gets together on a regular basis to talk about best practices. The league itself has done a nice job of giving us information on best practices. Because when we reopen the ballpark, it's not just the number of seats.”

Ricketts was a speaker in the first event of Foley & Lardner’s leadership insight series, "The Comeback: Sports in a Worldwide Pandemic." The connection between Ricketts and the law firm stretches back over a decade to when Foley represented the Ricketts family in the acquisition of the Cubs.

As part of Wednesday’s discussion, Ricketts addressed some of the health and safety precautions the team is taking when fans return to Wrigley Field.

MORE: Fans returning to Wrigley: ‘It’s good for everybody’s psyche'

The Cubs are installing new technology that allows for touchless entry screening. They’ve done away with paper tickets and gone exclusively mobile. Game day concessions and retail will be cashless, which Ricketts called “a big challenge” to implement. Fans will watch the game in pod-style seating. Masks will be required for all attendees, unless under the age of 2. And of course, the Cubs have put in place extra sanitation procedures.  

“I think that the teams in the league have all collaborated pretty well to make sure everyone is up to date with what the best practices are,” Ricketts said, “and everyone's putting them in place.”

Teams are, however, bound by different local ordinances. The result has been varying capacity limits.

The Rangers have the most divergent plan. On Wednesday, the team announced that it intends to allow full capacity at Globe Life Field for the home opener against the Blue Jays on April 5. The club will then slightly reduce attendance and make sections of more distanced seating available for the rest of April and May.

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