Cubs Home Opener Comes With Tight Restrictions At Wrigley Field

Baseball was back at Wrigley Field Thursday as the Cubs took on the Pittsburgh Pirates on a chilly Opening Day 2021 – though with reduced crowds. It was the first mega-event Chicago has seen since the pandemic began. CBS 2's Chris Tye reports.

Video Transcript

- Now to growing concerns in Chicago over COVID-19. The state reported more than 3,500 cases today. That's the highest total since early February. The case average is up more than 30% from just one week ago.

One year ago, there were 986 cases, and in most of the state, well, that was shut down, even Wrigley Field. Here's what it looks like a year ago, and here's what it looks like today, opening day for baseball. We have a team of reporters looking into safety in and outside the ballpark. Let's begin with CBS 2's Chris Tye. Chris?

CHRIS TYE: So Erica, this is a momentous day here in Chicago, even with reduced ticket sales inside Wrigley Field. This is the single biggest event Chicago has hosted since the pandemic began. The early reviews are coming in from the Cubs to the city to local businesses, and they seem to be pretty positive, though, we're learning here the big exam on that may still be a few days away.

The friendly confines.

- Baseball's back.

- Friendly to fans, once again--

- Go, Cubs!

- And boy, are they confined. Entry zones designated by color, tickets relegated to digital only. The event, the largest in Chicago since pandemic began became a stress test for city services. The CTA seemed to pass its test. The spot check of L trains to Wrigley we popped onto were compliant to social distancing and headcount rules. Police with a commanding presence. No major midday issues reported, though, residents say tighter parking restrictions since the last time the Cubs hosted fans, 557 days ago, did create new costs and concerns. And our spot check of bars and restaurants--

- This feels a little odd to be honest with you.

- --showed none of the Wrigleyville staples blatantly exceeding capacity limits. Most with reservation systems in place. Some completely empty on the outside.

- It's a little muted, but it's kind of what we expected.

- Muted as in no volume. That's what out of towners spotted.

- There's nobody around. Where was the traffic?

- So is this Chicago acing its first mega event or something else? Game tickets limited to 8,000 put a ceiling on crowd size, and mother nature may have taken care of the rest.

- First of all, it's 35 degrees.

- The cold fact for COVID spiking Wrigleyville, the real stress test is this weekend when the weather warms, the crowds swell, and the Cubs home stand rolls on.

- It just feels weird. That's what we've said all morning.

- As for today, the real challenge may still be hours away when the home opener is in the 1:20 hour, which is when the first pitch was today. The game just starts to let out here in the next half hour. Folks come off the clock, so you'll see folks coming after work. The bars, you'll start to see the busiest hours of their day. But so far, the city says no violations or citations from bars and restaurants. Live at Clark and Addison, Chris Tye, CBS 2 News.

- Thank you, Chris.