All 29 US-based MLB teams will welcome fans this season as coronavirus-related restrictions have eased in most of the country.
The entire 2020 regular season was played in front of empty seats, cardboard cutouts, and in some cases, overzealous grounds crew members. As Thursday marks Opening Day in MLB, stadiums will allow fans, although only one will be at full capacity.
The Texas Rangers announced that its 2021 curtain raiser will be at full capacity. For subsequent games this season, the team will have reduced attendance to promote social distancing.
Although there is not a uniform set of policies throughout MLB, in general, fans this season can expect the following safety procedures at stadiums:
- Masks required except when actively eating or drinking
- Concessions and tickets are touchless, meaning no paper tickets or cash will be accepted
- Ticketing will be in “pods”
Some stadiums are taking things a step further.
The New York Yankees and New York Mets will require either a negative coronavirus test or proof of vaccination before entry. That is part of the state of New York’s requirement for all sporting events with in-person attendance.
Most stadiums will be operating between 20 and 30% of capacity to start the season. As more Americans get vaccinated, it’s possible capacity restrictions could ease by the middle or end of the season.
One team that won’t be playing in its home stadium is the Toronto Blue Jays, which for the second straight season, is not permitted from crossing the border to play home games in Toronto. The team will instead play games at its Spring Training Facility for the foreseeable future.