Sports fans have been anxiously awaiting a return to normalcy for professional athletics. In 2020, professional sporting events were played in largely empty stadiums and arenas. In instances when fans were allowed in stadiums, capacity was often limited to very small crowds.
As bleak as 2020 might have been for sports fans, good news is on the horizon. Spring heralds the return of many things, including Major League Baseball, which begins its season on April 1. But it may be May before many fans feel comfortable returning to the stands to cheer on their favorite teams.
State and local governments will continue to have major input in regard to determining how many fans will be able to attend live sporting events. In addition, the percentage of fans allowed inside stadiums is likely to change based on fluctuations in COVID-19 cases and regional vaccination rates.
As of early March 2021, a handful of the 30 MLB teams had yet to release their attendance plans. However, the number of fans who will be allowed to attend games is predicted to range from 10 percent to 30 percent capacity in various stadiums. For example, the state of New York is allowing stadiums to open at 10 percent capacity. That means the Yankees and Mets can seat 5,400 and 4,200 fans, respectively. The Kansas City Royals will start the season with 30 percent capacity and Kauffman Stadium has been reconfigured for pod-style seating. The Miami Marlins and Marlins Park are allowing 25 percent capacity to begin the season, or approximately 9,200 fans.
Baseball fans who find they are unable to get tickets to games or still want to wait a while before attending in person can indulge their love of baseball in other ways.
• Continue to watch games on television and create virtual game watches with fellow fans via Zoom.
• Support local minor league baseball. Check to see what restrictions, if any, local stadiums may have regarding attendance.
• Plan a road trip to a state that has a large stadium or high capacity volumes for fans.
• Make a pilgrimage to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Visits may be governed by certain restrictions, which can be found at www.baseballhall.org.
• Volunteer as a coach for a youth baseball team or attend a high school baseball game.
Baseball fans have reason to rejoice as the opportunity to enjoy their favorite sport in person is once again possible in many areas.