Major League Baseball’s spring training has started with fans in attendance as we move to a possible Opening Day with fans.
By Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer
Spring training has begun for Major League Baseball with fans in attendance, a possible test-drive to have people in the stands for opening day in April.
Last season, fans were not allowed to attend regular season games. Stadiums used cardboard fan cutouts and pumped in crowd noise to mimic human presence, giving players the illusion of a live crowd. This season, teams are trying to accommodate as much fan experience as they see fit, with capacity to host anywhere from 1,000 to 3,630 fans per game.
“I hope, by Opening Day, we are finally going to have some fans in the park,” said Stan Kasten, team president of the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a quote from the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think it will be a full stadium just yet. But I do believe sometime during this season, the way things are looking, we will have a full stadium again.”
The playoffs provided the first opportunity for fans to attend a game. In both the National League Championship Series and the World Series, fans were able to watch and root on their teams at the brand-new Globe Life Field in Arlington Texas, the regular-season home of the Texas Rangers. Arlington played host to the late rounds of the playoffs in order to limit travel and prevent a COVID-19 outbreak.
Winning the 2020 World Series was a highlight within a tragic year for many Dodgers’ fans. Those in attendance were able to celebrate alongside the team as they hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy for the first time since 1988. The hope is that fans will be able to have similar experiences this upcoming season, but instead at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers are currently operating at 18 percent capacity at their spring training home of Camelback Ranch in Phoenix, Arizona, allowing 2,400 people in the stands. If they were to do the same in Los Angeles, 18 percent capacity would allow for 10,080 fans in attendance at Dodger Stadium.
Dodger Stadium currently serves as the largest vaccination site in Southern California, with capacity to administer up to 10,000 vaccines per day. So far, there has not been word as to how the stadium would transition from mass vaccination site to fan parking lot once again.
“We have confidence that when you look forward to April, to opening day,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a visit to Long Beach as reported by Yahoo News, “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.”
The ballclub has until April to arrange with the governor’s office, Los Angeles County and other groups to decide what the attendance situation at the stadium will be. If all goes well, fans will be in attendance at Dodger Stadium on Opening Day, April 9.
As Vin Scully started every Dodgers’ broadcast, “It’s Time For Dodger Baseball.”