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Ballpark costs of COVID-19 mitigation in 2021

Steinbrenner Field 2017

Not only did Minor League Baseball teams bring in little revenue in 2020, they have to budget for unexpected costs for 2021. Here’s a look at what the New York Yankees are spending on COVID-19 mitigation measures for Spring Training 2021 at Steinbrenner Field.

In terms of capacity (10,000), Steinbrenner Field is both a large spring-training ballpark and a large Minor League Baseball park. The Yankees recently came to an agreement for funding with the Tampa Stadium Authority and Steinbrenner Field on COVID-19 mitigation measures for Spring Training 2021: $1,693,159.20, using CARES Act funds to pay for the improvements.

We’ve broken down much of the budget at our Spring Training Online site, with costs ranging from a new canopy and adjustments in seating to enforce social distancing, to upgraded equipment for cashless concessions and electronic tickets. Lots of new Plexiglas throughout the ballpark is on the agenda, as well as a reconfiguration of dining areas and an upgraded air-filtration system. You can find the highlights of the spending plan at Spring Training Online, as well as a link to a full list of the upgrades.

Nothing being done at Steinbrenner Field is exotic or extravagant, and you can probably expect most local municipalities to require similar equipment changes once the 2021 Minor League Baseball season opens. (The specifics, however, remains to be seen, and will depend also on local dictates.) Who pays for these upgrades, of course, will likely be the subject of talks between team owners and management and local municipalities and concessionaires: while some of the costs at Steinbrenner Field are local to that facility (such as the installation of a permanent canopy), others will be considered just a cost of doing business. Of course any venue operator will want to install Plexiglas to protect concessions workers; of course a move to cashless concessions and electronic tickets. But after months of limited or no revenues, looking at a million-dollar-plus cost at prepping COVID-19 mitigation in a season with smaller crowds is yet another blow for owners already reeling from a terrible 2020.

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