After most of the 2020 season was played in empty stadiums, Major League Baseball has begun welcoming back fans at a reduced capacity for Spring Training games.
Though there are only a few thousand fans around the various ballparks, players have already noticed a significant difference from last season when teams piped in artificial crowd noise and put cardboard cutouts in seats.
With the 2021 regular season now less than a month away, the league is in the process of working with state officials on a plan that would allow fans to return to their home ballpark as soon as Opening Day.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently expressed hope that the Los Angeles Dodgers and other teams in the state will be able to host fans by Opening Day, per Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:
“We’re working on the final details,” Newsom said Wednesday at an appearance in Long Beach. “We’ve been working very closely with Major League Baseball and others across the spectrum.”
“We have confidence that when you look forward to April, to opening day,” Newsom said, “and where we are likely to be if we all do our jobs, if we don’t let our guard down and spike the ball — wrong sport — then I have all the confidence in the world that fans will be back safely, in a lot of these outdoor venues.”
While Newsom couldn’t guarantee that fans will be back in MLB ballparks on Opening Day, he did optimistically note that the state’s positivity rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has fallen to 2.2% in the last two weeks.
If the Dodgers are permitted to host fans at a 25% capacity, that would amount to roughly 14,000 fans being in attendance for the club’s home opener against the Washington Nationals on April 9, when they celebrate their first World Series championship since 1988.
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten had recently expressed his optimism over fans being able to attend games this year in a video distributed to season-ticket holders.
Cody Bellinger ‘excited’ to have fans at games
Bellinger is one of the many players excited to have fans back in the stands for Spring Training, recognizing the positive impact they make on games.
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