FAQs about watching games at Wrigley in '21

March 10th, 2021

MESA, Ariz. -- While fans were not allowed inside Wrigley Field last season, the Cubs still heard cheers from the rooftops beyond the bleachers. The team is thrilled to be inviting the Cubs faithful back inside the Friendly Confines come Opening Day this year.

It was announced Monday that the Cubs gained approval to open the season at 20 percent capacity for the 2021 season. To reach that point, the team has been working hard behind the scenes to develop a detailed plan for how to safely host fans in the coming months.

"Health is absolutely at the center of what we're doing," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. "We know, to the extent we have a bad outcome at Wrigley Field, let's just say in the first homestand if there were any evidence that COVID was transmitted at our games, we're going to go from 20% to zero.

"So, no one has more incentive than we do to do this safely. We are really in lockstep with the city and state. We agree, with opening, it's kind of walk before you run."

The Cubs hope to increase their crowd capacity throughout the summer, as the COVID-19 data potentially improves. For that to happen, though, fans have to know what to expect when they do enter Wrigley Field again. And the organization spent around $10 million on its efforts to create a safe environment.

"Almost everything [fans] know about Wrigley Field is going to be different this year," Kenney said. "From the way they purchase tickets, the way they purchase concessions, the security system, when they come in, their time of entry, the way they exit, the restrooms they can use. All of those things are going to be different."

With that in mind, here is a FAQ on how things will work at Wrigley Field to start the 2021 season:

How will season-ticket holders be prioritized for gaining access to tickets?
Suite holders and other fans with contractual obligations will be given priority out of the gates. For the presale of season-ticket holders, priority will be based on account tenure. From there, the Cubs are holding a raffle program for tickets to go to the general public, as the team wants as many fans as possible to attend a game, given the limited capacity. Detailed information on tickets and the Cubs' ticket programs can be found at Cubs.com/tickets.

How will the seating pods be organized?
The Cubs worked with infectious disease expert Dr. Robert Citronberg and consulted a third-party service to study and map out the safest seating strategy possible for Wrigley Field. To start, the pods will consist of no more than four seats and will be spaced out according to the analysis models.

The Cubs will also divide the ballpark into 20 zones, or "neighborhoods" as Kenney phrased it. Each zone will have a specific entry and exit points, and each will have its own concessions and restrooms. By keeping fans in their own zones, the club will have reduced the number of people coming into contact with one another.

How will the bleacher seats work?
In the main section of the ballpark, seats can be tied to keep fans to their assigned pod seats. Out in the bleachers, that option does not exist. The Cubs plan on marking and assigning seats in those sections -- similar to how the outfield berms have been organized at Sloan Park during Spring Training.

Will Gallagher Way be utilized this season?
During the 2020 season, when no fans were allowed inside Wrigley Field, Gallagher Way was closed and the team did not use the outdoor video screen to show broadcasts. The goal was to discourage crowds from forming. This year, Gallagher Way will be open only as an entry and exit point. There are currently no plans to have concessions or sponsor events outside, as the team wants to continue to avoid large groups of fans congregating for now.

What will be available for groups larger than four?
For now, the Cubs plan on keeping the pod seating to four or fewer fans. For groups of up to eight people, there will be suite rental opportunities.

When and where will masks be required?
Wearing a protective mask will be required for fans everywhere inside Wrigley Field, with the exception of while actively eating and/or drinking. The Cubs plan on going through detailed training with their stadium workers to help remind fans and enforce mask wearing, as appropriate. There will be signage throughout the stadium listing the safety protocols people will be asked to adhere to in order to maintain a safe environment.

Fans are asked to bring their own masks, but masks will be available upon request. All workers will be required to wear masks, with vendors and security also wearing gloves.

How will touchless entry work?
The Cubs have invested in a lot of new technology to help reduce contact, and that will be especially evident at the entrances. Fans will be able to leave their wallet, keys and phone in their pockets and the magnetometer's will be wide enough to allow multiple fans in at once. That will reduce the number of people waiting in a single-file line.

The Cubs are also moving exclusively to mobile ticketing (and electronic parking passes) to reduce contact. Mobile tickets can be scanned upon entry, and the team will even have self-scanning ticket pedestals at each gate. The gates will open at least 90 minutes before first pitch and fans will have a timed entry and assigned entry (and exit) gate.

As far as exiting goes, the Cubs have run simulations and believe a limited-capacity crowd (20 percent) will be able to completely exit the ballpark within a five-minute window. The process should be helped with the assigned exits, helping to reducing crowd build-up in the concourse.

Will fans have to go through a health screening upon entry?
No, but the Cubs are asking fans not to come to the ballpark if they are not feeling well. And this year, the team will have an exchange policy for fans who are unable to attend a game due to illness.

How will concessions and retail be handled?
Each zone will have its own concessions (with usual offering) and retail available. The Cubs are going cashless for 2021, so fans will be able to pay via credit card, Apple Pay or mobile ordering. The club has also partnered with Venuetize to help with mobile ordering, which will be available in the MLB Ballpark app. Fans can order from their seats and then head to pick up items.

How many restrooms will be made available?
All of them. Even with a smaller-capacity crowd, the Cubs plan on having all restrooms available for fans in order to reduce crowding and contact. Sanitation will take place throughout games and again after games. Each ticket zone will have designated restrooms. Touchless soap dispensers will be available, and the organization will be adding hand-washing stations in the concourse near bathrooms to avoid congestion.

What sanitation efforts will take place?
The Cubs will be following cleaning guidelines set forth by the country's leading health organizations. High-traffic areas will be cleaned during games, and the team will do a deep clean of the ballpark after each game and before the next game.

What medical consultants helped the Cubs form their Wrigley Field plan?
The Cubs worked with infectious disease experts Dr. Robert Citronberg (Advocate Aurora Health) and Dr. Gary Noskin (Northwestern Memorial), while also utilizing the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory and Infection Control Education for Major Sports. The organization also leaned on its medical team, medical leaders from MLB and sought guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Were there any issues with the Wrigley Field rooftops last year?
The team noted that nearly 10,000 fans viewed Cubs games from the rooftop seats during the 2020 season, and there was not a single positive case during Summer Camp or the season. That also gave the club an early test run of sorts for pod seating, required masking and social distancing. The organization believes that experience gives it an advantage in bringing similar measure into the ballpark in 2021.

What did the Cubs learn from studying the NFL season?
The Cubs monitored the data that came out of NFL games that were played outdoors to help determine whether hosting fans was feasible. One study the team cited came from the Journal of Infectious Disease, which found that outdoor events were nearly 19 times safer than indoor activities. Kenny noted that 1.2 million fans came through 18 different venues in the 17-week NFL season and local health officials found no COVID-19 cases that could be attributed back to those events.

Last year, Cubs players had outdoor areas to train at Wrigley Field. Will that be true again in 2021?
With fans coming back in 2021, creating outdoor spaces for the players will be more challenging. The current plan might include utilizing areas in the lower part of the bleachers concourse for the team to use. There will be areas around the ballpark that are closed off and available only to certain people via a similar tiered-access structure as last season.