As vaccinations increase and positivity rates decline, MLB teams are working with local health officials to raise capacity limits at ballparks, adjusting operations along the way.
The Toronto Blue Jays have not played a game at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, but the team is already adjusting seating arrangements and capacity limits after the state of New York approved new guidelines. The team has added fully vaccinated seating sections at Sahlen Field, increasing the ballpark’s seating capacity to 35 percent for the first eight games (June 1 to 17), in line with the latest guidelines. Fans aged 16 and older sitting in fully vaccinated seating sections must present a photo ID that matches their proof of receipt of full COVID-19 vaccination, received at least 14 days prior to the day of the game–and yes, masks will still be required. Tickets for these games will go on sale May 20.
The Philadelphia Phillies will increase seating capacity from 11,000 to 16,000 at Citizens Bank Park after the city reduced social-distancing guidelines from six to three feet. That begins on May 21 with the Boston Red Sox series and continues with the series against the Washington Nationals (June 4-6) and Atlanta Braves (June 8-10).
Beginning on Saturday, June 12, the first matchup of a two-game set against the New York Yankees, the seating capacity will increase to 100 percent for the remainder of the 2021 season. A limited number of seating pods will be available for fans who prefer to remain in a socially-distanced environment. Tailgating will also be permitted in lots surrounding the ballpark. Yes, masks will be required.
“This is a very exciting time in the City of Philadelphia as we begin to return to some sense of normalcy,” said Phillies Executive Vice President David Buck via press release. “There is nothing better than the energy and enthusiasm that Phillies fans bring to Citizens Bank Park. We look forward to welcoming even more fans back to enjoy the ballpark experience.”
A decrease from six feet to three feet is also allowing the St. Louis Cardinals to increase capacity at Busch Stadium. beginning Friday, May 21. Seating pods will now be spaced a minimum of three feet apart in all directions, allowing Busch Stadium capacity to roughly double to roughly 30,000–and perhaps not so coincidentally, the first series with the expanding seating will be a May 21-23 weekend series vs. the Chicago Cubs.
In Milwaukee, seating capacity at American Family Field will increase from the current 25 percent to 50 percent. The increase will be effective beginning with this Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Braves. By June 25 capacity will be expanded to 100 percent.
In Minnesota, the Twins have announced a phased increase in Target Field capacity over the next two months. Target Field will operate at up to 60 percent capacity beginning immediately, while capacity will increase to 80 percent capacity for the team’s 12 home contests in June. Finally, beginning on July 5, Target Field will have full 100 percent capacity for the Twins’ final 40 regular season home games of 2021.
“Our fans are what make baseball great, as they truly transform Target Field into our home ballpark, and a day or evening at the Twins game into lifelong memories,” said club President & CEO Dave St. Peter via press release. “To that end, we are grateful that our state and region continue to be on a path toward improved health and a return to normalcy, and we are absolutely thrilled to begin our measured, responsible and safe ramp up to 100 percent capacity at the ballpark. We look forward to continue bringing our community together through Twins baseball this season, and we cannot wait to see–and hear–a full house at Target Field.”
One big side effect to these capacity increases: teams are also staffing up to meet the larger crowds, with teams openly advertising and recruiting game-day workers.
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