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Manfred: There will be fans at NLCS, World Series

Globe Life Field February 2020

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred says he expects fans to be present at the National League Championship Series and the World Series games at Texas’s Globe Life Field, with ticket information due shortly.

In an interview with Bob Nightengale, Manfred made the attendance announcement. Texas is allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 50 percent capacity. The Dallas Cowboys (NFL) did not approach that level in their season opener at AT&T Stadium, deciding instead to limit the capacity to an announced crowd of 21,708. That still made for the largest crowd in the NFL last weekend, with most teams operating with no fans in the stands and others with much smaller crowds.

MLB has already been working on a game plan for a return of fans: contactless ticketing and concessions, lots of plexiglas, mandatory masks in concourses and entryways, timed entries and limiting fans to their own sections. So the Manfred announcement is not necessarily surprising:

“We are pressing ahead to have fans in Texas,’’ said Manfred, with a ticket sales announcement expected soon. “One of the most important things to our game is the presence of fans. Starting down the path of having fans in stadiums, and in a safe and risk-free environment, is very, very important to our game.’’

A risk-free environment is pretty much impossible–all it takes is one moron slipping a mask under their nose in a crowded concourse to create a risk–and it’s probably not a term the commissioner should have used. Still, a plan like the one contemplated by MLB certainly has some robust COVID-19 mitigation measures, ones that will probably be around for spring training and even the beginning of the 2021 season. Some of those measures, like paperless ticketing, have already been announced by MLB teams.

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