CHICAGO (CBS) — A City Council committee voted Thursday to temporarily lift restrictions on night games on Fridays and Saturdays at Wrigley Field, to allow the Chicago Cubs to minimize the health risk to players during a pandemic-abbreviated season in 2020.
The city currently allows for only three Saturday night games a year at Wrigley Field, and no Friday night games, but the one-year exception approved by the License Committee on Thursday would allow the Cubs to host six Friday night games and five Saturday night games during the 60-game season this year.
The Cubs will open their season with a Friday night game on July 24 against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) — who has long opposed weekend night games at Wrigley Field, arguing they would exacerbate the already large crowds in Wrigleyville on weekends, and create a security risk — said the temporary exemption is needed this year due to the “extraordinary circumstances” of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we need to be working as diligently to get the Cubs schedule and season, that being 30 games in Lakeview, and not to prohibit Friday and Saturday for this year only,” he said.
Cubs executive vice president Mike Lufrano said, with fans not allowed in the stands yet, allowing more night games will allow more people to watch games on TV.
“We’re excited to be playing baseball again. It’s good to be back on the field, even without fans in the ballpark,” he said.
The Cubs have said more night games also will protect player health, by allowing visiting teams to arrive in Chicago on Friday when they play a weekend series, rather than having to come in on a Thursday night to be able to make a Friday day game. That means one less night in a hotel for visiting players.
Lufrano said, while the Cubs would like to be able to allow fans in the stands at some point this season, he said the team will defer to state and city public health officials regarding a decision about whether to allow fans in the stadium.
“We want to do it, but we want to do it only when it’s safe to do so,” Lufrano told aldermen.
The ordinance allowing weekend night games will go before the full City Council for a vote next week.