When baseball returns to New York next month, fans will see it. They will just have to keep their distance from each other.
In a continuation of the re-launch of spectators at sporting events in New York, which is already returning basketball fans to Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Announced Thursday that the Yankees and the Mets will be allowed to run their stadiums at 20 percent of their ability to start the 2021 baseball season.
That will translate about 1,850 fans at Yankee Stadium for their opening day game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 1st. The Mets will be able to house 8,492 fans in Citi Field on April 8 for their home game against the Miami Marlins.
“We need it. The New York toughness, the New York crowd brings a different atmosphere to the ballpark, ‘Marcus Stroman, a starting pitcher for the Mets, said during a video conference with reporters on Thursday. ‘This is what every man in this clubhouse is looking forward to, towards the end of the year, and seeing the population on the stalls start to increase, because we know that the energy that feeds us, and it creates an environment that is difficult for opponents as well to play in. ”
The Mets and Yankees both issued statements in which they thanked the governor for the announcement and provided some details on how the process would work.
“We are very excited about the season ahead and welcome the best baseball fans back – safely – to Citi Field,” said Mets owner Steven Cohen, describing the announcement as an important step in restoring New York from the coronavirus pandemic. He expressed optimism that the restrictions – which will be re-evaluated in May – will eventually be lifted.
Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ chief executive, issued a similar statement, citing the benefits of bringing fans back to the stadium.
“The entire Yankees organization – and especially our players on the field – feeds the energy that brings our loyal and dedicated fans to Yankee Stadium,” he said.
Although the announcement is welcome news after the 30 Major League Baseball teams claimed to have lost billions collectively during last year’s fanless regular season, the attendance allowed is far from what it was before the pandemic. In 2019, the Yankees averaged 41,827 fans per game, the third highest in the majors, while the Mets were 13th with an average of 30,531.
The decision to allow spectators to come again after dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the U.S. government’s leading expert on infectious diseases, made it clear that, with the necessary precautions, the risk of transmission of the coronavirus to baseball parks was relatively low.
“The positive aspect of baseball is that most of it is outside,” he told The New York Times in a Q & A last month. ‘And if you give people enough space, you get people to wear masks, you have situations where people do not gather at the concessions close together to get food and stuff like that, you can pull it off in a pretty safe way, I believe.”
To that end, MLB teams will follow strict guidelines for the presence of attendees and behavior of fans.
All fans must provide documentation that they have been fully vaccinated or that they have recently undergone a negative test for the virus. And all guests older than 2 must wear masks, except when eating or drinking on their assigned seats. Although there is an indication for spring practice games, it can be difficult to apply the mask regulations.
To accommodate distance regulations, the teams will sell tickets in bunches of one to six seats, with at least six feet between each pod. And to reduce the amount of physical interaction, all tickets are delivered via mobile app, without printing at home or paper tickets.
“Of course we know the protocols and everything that goes on in the world, it’s primarily in terms of safety and health,” Stroman said. “But once we start seeing fans – even down here we start getting fans in the stands, and it’s great, people screaming and cheering – it starts bringing the environment back to beams and it’s amazing to see.”
Tyler Kepner contribution made.