With the C.D.C. revising the use of masks outdoors, we’re seeing several states raise capacity limits just in time for the start of the 2021 MiLB season–but still expect to wear a mask at the ballpark for the time being.
In recognition that COVID-19 infections are on the decline as vaccinations continue, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) issued new guidelines for mask usage, saying that vaccinated adults do not need masks outdoors when alone or with small groups. In addition, small indoor gatherings with other vaccinated adults are cleared as well. But the recommendation remains about mask usage in crowds, such as those found at a baseball game. So you don’t need to wear a mask when walking up to the ballpark, but prepare to wear one within.
The effect of this isn’t a dropping of mask usage by MLB and MiLB teams, but rather the chance for state and local governments to reevaluate capacity limits. In Minnesota, for instance, Gov. Tim Walz has announced his administration will revise capacity guidelines for outdoor sports, including Minnesota Twins and St. Paul Saints (Triple-A East) games. The Twins are running Target Field at 20 percent capacity for the upcoming homestead, but that could change in coming weeks, per the Star Tribune:
The Twins on Tuesday announced a new slate of ticket offerings at a state-mandated 20% capacity through May 30, but Walz said those limits could be expanded for future events because “it looks like we are seeing some plateauing” in pandemic activity.
“The moves coming now are the moves back to normal,” Walz predicted, “because already you can be in restaurants, you can be in movie theaters, we have kids in school. We’re doing most of those things. The next moves are capacity limits coming off and some of those things.”
Other MLB teams have already announced an increase in capacity: the Kansas City Royals will now allow 17,400 fans into Kauffman Stadium during May home games, up from the 10,000 limit imposed when the season started. The team will continue to offer pod-based seating, but the pods will be only three feet apart. Similarly, the Boston Red Sox are moving to 25 percent capacity at Fenway Park–or 9,400 fans per game–in an increase over the 10 percent capacity to begin the season. And both the New York Mets and New York Yankees have been cleared for 33 percent capacity beginning May 19.
In Minor League Baseball, we’re already seeing some capacity upgrades as well. At Canal Park, home of the Akron RubberDucks (Double-A Northeast), the team has increased the capacity for the beginning of the season, including the May 4 Opening Day, to 47 percent capacity. This will allow a capacity of approximately 3,600 seats at Canal Park, which represents 47 percent of the 7,630 total seating capacity. This increased comes with the approval of local and state officials.
We are still not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation, but the hard work of the last year is finally yielding some light at the end of the tunnel.
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