Despite still being in a global pandemic, the Texas Rangers hosted their home opener on April 5 with a sell-out crowd of 38,238 people.
This is the first full capacity sporting event during the COVID-19 pandemic, with other Major League Baseball teams having limited numbers of fans in attendance.
One of those teams with limited capacity is the Oakland Athletics and I was able to attend a game on April 4 with COVID protocols and limited capacity of fans.
To begin with, you could purchase your parking pass along with your tickets to the game but if you chose to purchase your parking pass at the stadium it would have to be cashless payments.
This policy of cashless payments pertains to everything else at the stadium whether that’s merchandise, concession stands or the vendors passing by with food and beverages.
Fans are required to wear masks and may be able to remove them once seated in their pod or when eating or drinking.
Fans are able to purchase tickets in groups of four or two and must stay in their pod, which is a group of seats in one row that are grouped together. The seats in between the pods are closed off by zip ties in order to keep social distancing between groups of fans.
Hand sanitizer dispensers are around the stadium as a part of the COVID protocols while also having ushers with signs reminding you to wear your mask.
Ordering food now is done through MLB’s Ballpark app as opposed to walking up to the concession stands. You will receive a confirmation email for your order, then go to the section indicated to pick up your food.
Personally, this was an all-around safe experience with no contact with unknown people. I would not hesitate in attending another game with these protocols put into place.
All these protocols make you feel safe at a professional sporting event, as for full capacity with no protocols, I don’t know if I’m personally ready for that.
I can’t speak on behalf of the fans who attended the games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, but seeing most of the fans with no masks and no social distancing should not be the way that fans should be brought in at 100% capacity.
The Rangers counterpart in Texas, the Houston Astros, are allowing fans in at 50% capacity as opposed to the full capacity that the Rangers are allowing into their stadium. The Astros are doing a better job of following COVID protocols than the Rangers, as fans will be subject to a verbal health screening along with having to wear a mask at all times except when eating and drinking, according to Spectrum News from the Texas region.
Protocols in different counties will vary, like just across the Bay from Oakland, the San Francisco Giants need proof of a negative COVID test or proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter the ballpark.
If MLB can find a way to check fans if they have received a COVID vaccine or have received a COVID test, then this can be the gateway to allow fans back to Major League ballparks.
As for those allowing limited capacity fans at their stadiums, at least from my experience, the Oakland A’s have set a prime example not only for other MLB teams, but also to other major sports leagues on how to re-open their stadium to fans.
More than anything, the priority of MLB and other professional sports leagues should be to welcome fans back, but safely. If this can not be done in a safe way, then it shouldn’t be done at all.