Baseball stadiums are reopening, but what will fans eat?

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socially distanced baseball stadium
Photo: Christian Petersen / Staff (Getty Images)

Baseball season will be upon us shortly, and some stadiums will be open for opening day with limited capacity. Here in Chicago, the games will open at 20% capacity for both the Cubs and the White Sox. That’s roughly around 8,200 people maximum per stadium. One of the best things, at least for me, during a baseball game is grabbing an overpriced beer or hot dog from one of the vendors who hustles up and down the stairs in each section. But will the vendors be part of the 8,200?

Food & Wine looked into the matter of vendors at sporting events to see who might even be allowed to return. According to Eater Chicago, we won’t be seeing the roving beer or food vendors just yet.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the teams have yet to give any indication that beer and hot dog vendors will return. Vendors were omitted in the announcement as the only food-related nugget in Monday’s announcement was that concession stands will accept credit cards and not cash.

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Normally baseball organizations reach out to vendors before the season begins, letting them sign up for games coming up in the schedule. But right now there’s just silence and confusion. Lloyd Rutzky, a long-time Chicago beer vendor and a vet of both the North and South Side Chicago ballparks, says that he thinks that fans will be stuck with stands inside the concourse areas and won’t be able to buy concessions from their seats.

But the presence of vendors depends on local government decisions. For instance, F&W explains, the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres would hypothetically not be able to sell food at all because they are all located in “purple tier” counties, but the San Francisco Giants could, because Oracle Park is in a “red tier” area.

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I have a feeling that we won’t be seeing anything that we’d consider normal until next year (sorry to be that guy), because there’s just too much to deal with still. I’m not someone who’s very into sports, but right now I’m feeling nostalgic for the few times I did go to a ball game, shouting until my voice gave way, and eating hot dogs and nachos in the hot sun.