Lori stands tough on fans

Mayor re­it­er­ates Tim­ing not right for al­low­ing Crowds into Sol­dier Field, raps bears for ‘not com­mu­ni­cat­ing’

Chicago Sun-Times - - BEARS BEAT - BY PA­TRICK FIN­LEY pfin­ley@sun­times.com @patrick­fin­ley

Say­ing the odds of Bears fans re­turn­ing to Sol­dier Field this sea­son are at less than 50%, Chicago Mayor Lori Light­foot ac­cused the team of not com­mu­ni­cat­ing with her of­fice.

In an in­ter­view with “Mully and Haugh” on WSCR-AM on Fri­day morn­ing, Light­foot said that “we’re no nowhere near at a place where we can even real­is­ti­cally talk about fans com­ing back to Sol­dier Field.” She said her of­fice is “will­ing to ab­so­lutely work with the Bears — but they’ve got to talk with us and be will­ing to co­op­er­ate and not just say things in the me­dia.”

At an un­re­lated news con­fer­ence later Fri­day, Light­foot talked specif­i­cally about what she wanted from the Bears.

“Work with our [public health] ex­perts,” Light­foot said. “Come to us with spe­cific, con­crete plans . . . . Hun­dreds of peo­ple have to be there, just to sup­port the game it­self. Then, when you layer into it . . . the peo­ple in the stands, that is a com­pli­cated ex­er­cise.

“It is a mas­sive ex­er­cise to put one of these events on. That’s why you can’t just talk about it in the me­dia. You’ve got to dig down and do the hard work of plan­ning to make it hap­pen. But it’s al­ways go­ing to be dic­tated by the public-health guid­ance.”

Just last week, Bears chair­man George McCaskey said the Bears pre­sented a “good plan” to the city and were told the num­ber of ac­tive cases needed to shrink be­fore fans could re­turn.

The Bears is­sued a state­ment late Fri­day at­tempt­ing the counter Light­foot’s claim, say­ing they’ve had “weekly com­mu­ni­ca­tion” with her of­fice about the pan­demic and the po­ten­tial for fans at their games.

“In mid-Au­gust we re­viewed a de­tailed plan with city and public health of­fi­cials to as­sess the fea­si­bil­ity of al­low­ing a lim­ited num­ber of fans to at­tend Bears games,” the team said in a state­ment. ‘The plan was the re­sult of weeks of col­lab­o­ra­tion among the Bears, ASM Global, the Chicago Park District

“Hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about throw­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple into a venue like Sol­dier Field when we are still see­ing an uptick of cases isn’t re­spon­si­ble.” Lori Light­foot, mayor of chicago

and health ex­perts. It ad­dresses City, State and NFL guide­lines to en­sure a safe en­vi­ron­ment for ev­ery­one in­side the sta­dium. Af­ter the re­view, all par­ties agreed the tim­ing to wel­come fans was not right given the cur­rent health met­rics.

“On Au­gust 17, both the Bears and City is­sued state­ments ref­er­enc­ing the plan . . . and the hope to re­turn fans to Sol­dier Field, but not un­til health met­rics im­proved. We con­tinue to work closely with mem­bers of the Mayor’s staff [to de­ter­mine] the right time to bring fans back.”

The Bears will not have fans in­side Sol­dier Field for their home opener Sun­day. The Colts, Jaguars, Chiefs and Dol­phins are among the only NFL teams that are al­low­ing fans in their sta­di­ums in Septem­ber.

Light­foot said the city is “just com­ing out of a spike in cases” that started in late July and con­tin­ued through Au­gust and early Septem­ber. A “down­ward trend” started seven-to-10 days ago, but Chicago’s pos­i­tiv­ity rate is still “not where any­one would like it” to be, she said.

“Hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion about throw­ing hun­dreds of peo­ple into a venue like Sol­dier Field when we are still see­ing an uptick of cases isn’t re­spon­si­ble,” Light­foot said. ‘It doesn’t mean we can’t plan for con­tin­gen­cies. ✶

ASHLEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES

Mayor Lori Light­foot vis­ited Sol­dier Field for a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce the “We Are Not Play­ing” cam­paign in April. On Fri­day, she called for the Bears to pro­vide “spe­cific, con­crete plans.”

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