With the launch of the National League Championship Series tonight, fans will be present at a Globe Life Field game for the first time. What they experience may carry over into the 2021 spring training and regular seasons.
Yes, it’s a little sad that the new $1.2-billion home of the Texas Rangers will play host to two series without the Texas Rangers in sight, serving as a neutral site to NLCS and the World Series. About 10,500 fans (roughly 28 percent of capacity) will be allowed into the ballpark, and at reasonable prices on the resale market, apparently. What they see in terms of the fan experience, as defined by concessionaire Delaware North, may end up being a model for how MLB holds spring-training and regular-season season games in 2021, should the pandemic not abate and a vaccine not widely available.
Much of what Delaware North has announced isn’t a surprise: touchless etickets for scanning, and cashless transactions at all food, beverage and merchandise points of sale (a practice already implemented by the Tampa Bay Rays and planned for 2021 by several teams, including the Cleveland Indians), as well as parking lots. ATMs have been removed from the ballpark, replaced by Reverse ATMs, which convert cash into loaded payment cards. Fans will be able to order after waiting in queue or order in select situations via kiosk for pickup.
The food offerings will be limited, with most stands offering traditional ballpark favorites, though a few high-end speciality stands will be open. Other new grab-and-go locations will sell packaged snacks and beverages will also be available at a variety of stands. Again, this is not new, and several ballparks, including Wrigley Field and Citi Field, have installed grab-and-go stands in recent years. No more buffets in group spaces, and no open condiment stands.
Expect everything to be socially distanced, ranging from seating (tickets are sold in pods of four, all separated from other pods) to restrooms.
And, of course, a mask is required for entry and must be worn unless you’re consuming food and rink. But, interestingly enough, no waiver (which are a lot more worthless than people assume, anyway) and no temperature check.
“Every operational update at Globe Life Field was done with safety as the absolute top priority as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” said Casey Rapp, general manager for Delaware North at the ballpark, via press release. “Along with the Rangers, we are honored to welcome fans during the NLCS and Fall Classic at this spectacular new ballpark.”
Again, none of this should be particularly surprising: some arenas, such as PPG Arena, have already announced similar measure for the 2020-2021 NHL season.