Some fans allowed beginning Opening Day

March 10th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There will be a limited number of White Sox fans allowed at Guaranteed Rate Field, starting with the home opener on April 8, after an announcement made Monday by City of Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.

Under a plan agreed to by Lightfoot, the City of Chicago and guidelines approved by the city and reviewed by state public health officials, the White Sox will allow approximately 20 percent of Guaranteed Rate Field’s total capacity in physically distanced seating pods at home games to begin the 2021 Major League Baseball season. That approved percentage brings the total to 8,122 on the South Side.

Players have discussed the energy coming from the 2,400 fans being allowed at Camelback Ranch during Spring Training contests. That energy should only multiply with fans getting ready to watch a contending team after not being able to attend games in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s no doubt there was excitement to know we were going to be able to have fans back,” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox senior vice president, chief revenue and marketing officer, during a Monday Zoom. “It’s awesome. It’s going to be a great atmosphere here on Opening Day. The fact that we haven't had any fans in the ballpark since 2019 and the development this ballclub has made over that stretch of time, it’s super exciting.”

There were a number of different plans in place for the White Sox without ultimately knowing the final direction until Monday. Boyer tipped his cap to the Cubs and the White Sox for working together with the city to get baseball fans into both teams' parks.

“Obviously, a lot of work for both clubs to put plans together that, ultimately, were approved by the city and Major League Baseball,” Boyer said.

“We believe this is a moment when baseball can indeed serve our fans and our communities again as we all hope for a gradual return to normal,” said White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf in part of his statement through the team press release. “It’s why we applaud Mayor Lightfoot, the leadership role she and Governor [J.B.] Pritzker have played for our city and state, and the decision today -- guided by an unwavering commitment to public health and safety -- to allow fans to return to Guaranteed Rate Field for Opening Day.”

Season-ticket holders, some of whom have had their money in an account for 18 months, per Boyer, are going to get first chance at tickets, with the first homestand against the Royals (April 8-11, three games) and Cleveland (April 12-15, four games) being the only games put on sale by the team right now. Boyer couldn’t give a definitive response when asked if fans who are not season-ticket holders will have a chance to purchase for the home opener.

“That is a currently debated topic,” Boyer said. “What is the demand going to be? You’d assume there would be a lot of pent-up demand based on the quality of the product that’s going to be headed north [from Spring Training in Arizona], along with the fact nobody has been able to see this team since the 2019 season, balanced against COVID fear, fear of crowds.

“So we don’t know. There seems to be a lot of excitement, and we’ll find out once we start making the tickets available to our season-ticket holders.”

New measures will be put in place to help ensure the safest possible gameday experience for fans. New protocols are detailed on the Playing It Safe page at They include:

• Physically distanced seating assigned by pods of one to six

• Mobile ticketing for contactless entry and contact tracing

• Mandatory masks worn properly by everyone ages two and up

• Maintaining physical distancing around and throughout the ballpark property

• Numerous hand sanitizer stations for fans

• Limited menu of individually packaged food items will be available

• No bags will be allowed (except for small clutch purses, medical bags or diaper bags when infant is present)

• Enhanced cleaning protocols, including frequent disinfecting using hospital-grade supplies on high-touch areas

Ticket availability will be determined on a homestand-by-homestand basis to begin the 2021 season. Capacity limits will be reviewed regularly based on approved city and state health and safety directives prior to new homestand game tickets being released.

Giveaways and season-long promotions have been postponed until further notice. There also will be no tailgating at the ballpark, with Boyer stressing mandatory mask restrictions being strictly enforced for everyone attending, even fans who have been fully vaccinated.

But fans are back, which certainly is good news for the players working in front of them.

“The way the game was explained to me, we're all complementary,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “The two most important, that's players who play and the fans who pay to watch and are entertained. So, you've got half the equation. The players are playing, and we needed the other side, so that's great news. … Everybody raises their level if there are people watching.”

“I haven’t got to experience the fans yet, but I’m excited and we are looking forward to it,” White Sox second baseman Nick Madrigal said. “Hopefully, it opens up everywhere we go.”