Springtime is starting to show certain signs of sticking around for good, but what’s on most baseball fans’ minds is if they will be able to go back to stadiums for good. With the Major League Baseball teams currently in the warm weather of Arizona (Cactus League) or Florida (Grapefruit League) for spring training, Opening Day is just around the corner. What used to be a lively day across the country is now a researching fiasco to see if real people or cardboard cutouts will be in attendance on this great day.
As many have learned through the pandemic, rules and guidelines are changing almost constantly to try and protect the majority of people from COVID-19. However, as April comes creeping in, stadiums across the country are scrambling with local and state officials to try and work out a plan to have fans at any cost. As of right now, there are 25 MLB teams that plan to have fans in some kind of capacity. Of course, this number is subject to change based on conditions surrounding health and safety protocols.
With all that being said, where can fans catch a professional baseball game in-person for the first time in almost 2 years? Most teams’ capacities lie around 20% of the stadium, which then also ranges from the overall capacity a stadium can maintain. Current guidelines have the Colorado Rockies as the team with the highest potential of fans on Opening Day at roughly 21,000 fans (42% Capacity). While most teams reached a number for capacity that suited them, others found themselves fall short of their goal. The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox have sent requests to the Illinois Health Department to seat fans at 30% capacity but were rebutted with a maximum of 20% (just over 8,000 for each stadium).
As most teams are carrying out capacities, one team will stand alone in the chance to have a truly normal Opening Day. The Texas Rangers have announced they will have plans to allow fans at full capacity at Globe Life Field. This has come after the state recently rolled back all mask mandates and has allowed businesses to operate at 100% capacity. While many questions are still to be answered, the team did announce they will require fans to still wear masks.
As said before, guidelines are subject to change, and hopefully, they will shift in a positive direction. For the local St. Louis Cardinals, the stadium has been granted to hold almost 15,000 fans sitting at about 32% of what Busch Stadium could hold in 2019. Parker Lutz, a senior here at Greenville University, has his eyes set on the first game of the season in the Gateway City. He mentioned that although things are still moving around and getting figured out on the health officials’ and team’s side for selling tickets, “I want to be able to say I was the first person back in Busch Stadium since Corona.” The box office for the Cardinals is currently closed, but Lutz says he is “… checking daily to see if the tickets have gone up on the site”.
Opening Day in the baseball world is a holiday and tradition that has been lost in the world of the pandemic. With things looking to be on the brighter side, teams are more than happy to begin allowing fans back. Not only are financial implications involved for the organization as a whole, but the true spirit of the sport will be returning with the fans.
Media by Noah Casali.