Kanye West’s listening party Thursday at Chicago’s Soldier Field for his upcoming album will admit up to 38,000 fans, with no requirement that they test negative for COVID-19 or prove they’ve been vaccinated to get in.
Chicago Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons said the reduced capacity, compared to the 63,000 people who can fill the stadium for a sold-out Bears game, shows the district is taking the situation seriously.
“Kanye West’s performance is one of many examples that show that Chicago can be open and safe at the same time,” Lemons said in a statement. “We have worked with Soldier Field on COVID-19 safety protocols, as we have other venues including Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate Fields, and feel this event can be safely held with the proper mitigation efforts in place.”
The two ballparks have been allowed to sell tickets at their full capacities of over 40,000 since Mayor Lori Lightfoot lifted restrictions in mid-June, when Chicago was seeing around 60 new coronavirus cases per day. The average number of new daily cases now stands at 454, as the delta variant surges.
Lollapalooza, which also took place on Park District property and saw 100,000 people per day descend on Grant Park during the four-day festival in late July and early August, required attendees to show a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of entrance or proof of vaccination. The average daily number of new COVID-19 cases in Chicago has more than doubled in the weeks since the festival, and the city has since implemented an indoor mask mandate.
At Soldier Field, that includes indoor areas like clubs, suite hallways, bathrooms, elevators and shops.
Thursday’s event to preview Chicago native West’s “Donda” album is set to kick off at 9 p.m., though the mercurial rapper tends to be fashionably late.
The album is named for West’s late mother, and West has reportedly built a replica inside Soldier Field of the South Side home he shared with her during his boyhood.