Opening Day is approaching, and with it the return of professional baseball in all its joyous, springtime glory. After a season devoid of fans and ballpark life, different MLB stadiums across the United States are once again opening their gates to allow the enthusiastic spectators it no doubt missed so dearly.
As with the return of anything in this day and age, there are going to be certain limitations and guidelines in regard to COVID-19 safety. An article written by Alden Gonzalez and Jesse Rogers for ESPN said “state and local governments will have a lot of say in determining how many fans can safely attend live sporting events (if any), a future likely to change with fluctuations in the spread of COVID-19 and vaccination rates.”
It is no secret that with the increase in administered vaccines, people are more likely to leave their homes and attend largely-populated events like sporting contests. The MLB has not released any league-wide rules and regulations yet, so stadiums across the nation have put together their own plans to safely allow fans to enter and enjoy the games.
According to Gonzalez and Rogers, all 30 MLB teams are welcoming fans for their home-openers, however, the capacities vary. Considering that some teams have not yet announced their stadium limits, the lowest percentage of fans allowed is currently 12 percent by the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals. Most teams are allowing roughly 25 percent capacity, with the exception of the Colorado Rockies (42.6 percent) and the Texas Rangers (100 percent).
Allowing full capacity in Texas is arguably a startling statistic, however, that is only occurring at the Rangers’s home-opener on April 5 against the Toronto Blue Jays; Gonzales and Rogers said subsequent games will see reduced capacity to accommodate socially distanced seating options.
Even though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted the state’s mandatory mask policy, Rangers COO Neil Leibman is requiring all fans who enter Globe Life Field to wear a mask or face covering, according to Gonzalez and Rogers. The Houston Astros’s fan capacity is listed as “TBD” at this time.
The MLB’s return is set for April 1, with a number of games scheduled from 1 p.m. through 10 p.m. Fans will once again be able to enjoy watching their favorite teams, whether that be in-stadium or otherwise.