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Cubs Opening Day Marks First Big Event In Chicago Since COVID-19 Pandemic Began

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CBS 2's Chris Tye evaluates how the home opener at Wrigley Field went Thursday, with many pandemic restrictions in place.

Video Transcript

- Well, this was the first major event hosted in Chicago since the pandemic began. So how did it go? CBS News, Chris Tye, is live at Wrigley for us with the early report card. Chris.

CHRIS TYE: Erica, good evening to you. It was game one, and it was a cold one here at Wrigley Field today. And the temperature may have kept the crowds down, and it kept things on track in the neighborhood. No small feat on this first big event, as you mentioned, since the pandemic. It puts new pressure on this weekend when the Cubs' home stand continues and the weather starts to warm.

557 days after fans last attended a game at Wrigley.

BROCK ISEMINGER: This feels a little odd, to be honest with you.

CHRIS TYE: Odd. Not because tickets were paperless, not because entry zones were color coded, not even because it's been so long, but because it's so quiet.

JASON FELSENTHAL: It's a little muted, but it's kind of what we expected.

CHRIS TYE: Only 8,000 tickets printed, only 35 ticks on the thermometer.

JASON FELSENTHAL: First of all, it's 35 degrees.

CHRIS TYE: For the CPD, the CTA, and local businesses, this was to be a big test, kicking the tires on what a major event post-pandemic looked and felt like. And while it was a hurdle cleared, the weekend warm up with the Cubs remaining in action could become the real first test. Still, police with a major presence, tougher parking restrictions now since the last time the Cubs hosted fans, L trains keeping capacity limits in check, and eateries--

BROCK ISEMINGER: Had a reservation at Deuce's, didn't need it.

CHRIS TYE: Some of them had vacant patios, newly developed reservation systems, and room to spare.

BROCK ISEMINGER: There's nobody around. Where was the traffic? We drove up here in an hour and a half.

CHRIS TYE: From Indiana?

BROCK ISEMINGER: From Indiana.

CHRIS TYE: One game down, one giant leap for a neighborhood itching to get back to full capacity.

JASON FELSENTHAL: I mean, you know, it's getting there. It's a little muted, but it's kind of what we expected.

CHRIS TYE: The city's office of business affairs says there were no citations or major violations so far today. So far the key here, Erica, because they say now that the game is over, the crowd has been released, and folks who are coming home from work are going out to the bars trying to get in that opening day vibe. These next few hours are going to be watched very closely.

- Yeah, it could be another wave there. All right, Chris. So the ballpark saw many advancements to keep people safe, assigning fans to certain pods, areas for food, drink, and restrooms. But in an effort to remain cashless, they introduced a so-called reverse ATM. How did that work out?

CHRIS TYE: Yeah, kind of an interesting idea, right? For folks who may have come to the game not realizing you can't use cash, it's a reverse ATM. You put your cash in the machine, and it spits out a card that has Cub cash that you can go around and use for vendors, and the like. This may be one of these things that we see linger after the pandemic as a new normal begins at Wrigley Field.

- All right, Chris Tye live for us out there. Thank you. And you can see here, so many people flooded social media with pictures of their pets and children-- for some, their pets are their children-- as they got ready for the game. Inside the park, Billy Krumb tweeted this picture and wrote, crazy to see the ball park this empty on opening day. And we talked about masks so check out this Cubs one with first baseman Anthony Rizzo's name and number. And Ashley Daly tweeting she got her first vaccine today so she can be back at Wrigley soon. Congratulations to you, Ashley.