Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Chicago Having 'Challenges' With Bears' Plan For Fans At Soldier Field

Lightfoot sees the odds being less than 50% that the Bears can host fans this season.
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(670 The Score) -- While a few NFL teams have welcomed fans into their stadiums early on this season and others have revealed plans to do, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot views the odds as being less than 50% of the Bears hosting fans at Soldier Field.

Lightfoot expressed frustration with the Bears organization for a lack of clarity and communication in attempting to form a proper plan to host fans inside Soldier Field this season.

"We're willing, absolutely, to work with the Bears," Lightfoot said on the Mully & Haugh Show on 670 The Score on Friday morning. "But they got to talk with us and be willing to cooperate with us and not just say things in the media. We've had real challenges there. The Bears have got to be better partners with us on a range of different issues, but this as well, if they want to get fans in the stands.

"It's a complicated thing. I can't just react to someone saying, 'Oh, yeah, we want to get fans in the stands.' It's not going to be that easy, and it's not going to happen unless we have real dialogue and a real conversation about the nuts and bolts, the granularity that's going be needed to even talk about a plan for having fans in the stands. That hasn't happened yet. We're certainly open to it.

"I don't like hearing for the first time on sports media, 'Oh, yeah, we're going to have fans in the stands.' Yeah, that's not going to happen. Talk to the Cubs.

"We're nowhere near at a place where we can even realistically talk about fans coming back to Soldier Field."

On Friday afternoon, the Bears issued a statement in response to Lightfoot's criticism.

“We have had weekly communication with the Mayor’s office on a variety of topics relating to the pandemic including fans at Soldier Field," the Bears said in their statement. "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 plan was the result of weeks of collaboration among the Bears, ASM Global, the Chicago Park District 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, the collaboration 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 on monitoring the environment, assessing the plan and determining the right time to bring fans back.”

Last week, Bears chairman George McCaskey expressed hope for the team to host fans inside Soldier Field.

"We're very optimistic," McCaskey said. "We're talking to the city. We've presented a plan, and we think it's a good plan. We're told that it is a good plan, but the city wants to see the numbers of active cases in the city come down before we can bring people to Soldier Field. So we're hopeful but we want to be prudent, we want to do the right thing and we want to cooperate with the city in their health and safety measures."

Lightfoot wants to have a "real dialogue" with the Bears before they can continue forward with a plan to host fans in Soldier Field, she said. Lightfoot is encouraged by the downward trend of COVID-19 cases in Chicago but doesn't want to risk anything at this time.

The Bears will host the Giants in an empty Soldier Field on Sunday.

"We have been very, very prudent in our approach to reopening," Lightfoot said. "We still remain the most open big city in the country.

"I don't want to blow this, because if we do, it's going to be a really, really hard winter."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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