Governor J.B. Pritzker hopeful White Sox, Cubs will be hosting games come July


Don't expect to be able to buy a ticket for a Fourth of July game at Guaranteed Rate Field or Wrigley Field. But the leader of our state is hopeful that baseball will return to the Land of Lincoln by July.

"I'm anxious, starting with baseball, to get baseball up and running again," Governor J.B. Pritzker said during his daily press conference Wednesday, "and I'm hopeful we will be able to do that going into July."

That's music to the ears of baseball fans who were fearful that even with a deal between Major League Baseball and the players' union to begin a shortened 2020 season during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the state might have had measures in place that could have prevented the White Sox and Cubs from playing home games in their ballparks.

The idea of games in early July matches the league's proposed format for a 2020 season that includes a second round of spring training beginning in the middle of next month, with Opening Day following in the first few days of July.

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Pritzker did mention the caveat that Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the City of Chicago are able to enact "more stringent" measures when it comes to sporting events. But with fans not expected to be allowed to attend games, at least at the season's outset, the mass gatherings that make for a higher risk of spreading the coronavirus would be limited to the players and staff, who the league plans on testing frequently.

"The state is the one that sets the parameters for any play that might exist in the state, and then the City of Chicago has the ability to be more stringent than the state," Pritzker said Wednesday. "I am as anxious as I think many people are to get our sports up and running again. The problem is we can't put spectators in the stands today. There's just no way to do that safely, according to the doctors.

"What the leagues have asked (for) is not for that. What they've asked (for) is the ability to run games, whether we're talking about hockey or baseball or football. At this moment, they're asking for the ability to run games, televised with no spectators. Even that, as you can imagine, two teams with all of the surrounding people who work for the team involved, it's a lot of people. So we've worked with them. They've actually come up with reasonably good plans, each one of the leagues."

With governors across the country indicating that pro sports will be welcomed back to their states in the months ahead, it doesn't appear that preventative measures imposed by governments will be among the bigger threats to getting a season off the ground. Instead, the continued squabbling between the league and the union now seems to present the highest hurdle to clear on the path to a 2020 campaign.

The league made an economic proposal to the union Tuesday, one that left the union "extremely disappointed." And along with their financial complaints, the union added they were far apart from the league on the proposed health-and-safety measures, too.

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