MLB teams prepare to host fans on Opening Day

Nearly every team in the league plans on allowing some fans for the first time since 2019


Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas is prepared to accept their full capacity, now that the state has dropped COVID-19 mandates.

Delaney McSweeney, Contributing Writer

Fans cheering, vendors shouting and die-hards fighting to catch a homerun ball. All of these could return for some of the Major League Baseball teams in as soon as two weeks. With Opening Day right around the corner, the MLB has been looking into various options that would allow fans to return to the ballparks following a season unlike any other.

The 2020 season was full of twists and turns for the MLB. During spring training last year, the MLB went into a complete shutdown, and play did not resume until July, bypassing the majority of the normal regular season. The league went on to play a shortened season of only sixty games, with very few fans allowed at the playoff games in November.

For a league that makes an average of $12 billion per year, the MLB has faced many financial difficulties throughout the pandemic. The largest came from the lengthy shutdown, which caused a deficit of $3 billion due to a lack of ticket sales.

In an effort to recoup some of their losses, owners and league officials have been pushing for the return of fans to the ballpark. As of now, no league-wide decision has been made. Since each state has its own mandates and regulations, each team has been granted the ability to choose its own rules and protocols for the 2021 season.

Opening Day is set for April 1, which means teams must decide on protocols for allowing fans before then. Management for each team has been reviewing their respective situations to determine if, and how many, fans will be allowed.

The MLB released a statement saying that proof of negative COVID-19 tests and/or vaccinations will not be required to attend events.

The first concern for the MLB is the health and safety of fans and players. There are also fears about the potential for a power imbalance with teams being in different states with varying rules. For example, the Texas Rangers will have full capacity at their games, allowing more than 40,000 fans inside their ballpark. This decision was made possible because of Texas’ lack of COVID-19 regulations. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Angels will most likely have few to no spectators allowed because of California’s strict mandates. This could draw into question the competitive integrity across the MLB this season.

Despite the risk of a power imbalance and the danger of heightened COVID-19 risks, the MLB has still made it clear that they want fans back in the stands. With new positive developments regarding vaccine distribution, the MLB has gained confidence that they can allow some fans at their events. With the MLB’s newfound confidence, a semblance of normalcy can possibly be back for the 2021 season.