In early March, before most of us really had a grasp as to what was in store with the pandemic, the Chicago Fire were busy trying to pack Soldier Field for the scheduled March 21 opener against Atlanta United.
The crowd would have easily topped 40,000, and privately, Fire executives were starting to think they had a shot at a sellout for the match. The Fire’s return to the city was going to be a party.
Five months later, we’re again looking at a return to Soldier Field, but as we’re all aware by now, the circumstances are going to be dramatically different.
If Major League Soccer decides to restart the regular season in a few weeks, it’s likely the league will leave it up to health officials and politicians in local markets to decide whether fans will be able to attend games.
I suspect Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker aren’t interested in allowing fans to attend soccer matches in any capacity. But if they do, it would absolutely have to be in small numbers, with parties spaced out across the Soldier Field stands.
Over the weekend, the Fire’s USL affiliate, Forward Madison, hosted its home opener. The crowd was sparse, and groups were spread apart across the stands. Everyone wore masks, and avoided mingling in the common areas. A friend who attended the match told me he felt “safe enough.”
If the Fire do allow people to attend, would you go to a match? I have no knowledge of how exactly the club would run things. But, for argument’s sake, let’s say the club made seating very sparse, required masks, had hand sanitizer stations stationed everywhere, bathroom doors were propped open, and all concessions were contactless and credit card only.
Would you feel safe enough going? Is there something else you’d want to have in place before you’re willing to go? Or, are you only watching on TV until the pandemic is over? Let us know in the comments or on social media!