With vaccinations increasing and the rate of the coronavirus spread at least leveling off, the Yankees and Mets will open the regular season at 20% capacity in their respective New York ballparks, the two clubs announced Thursday.
According to Major League Baseball, that leaves four of 30 teams that have yet to announce details around opening home games to fans: Detroit, Houston, San Diego and San Francisco.
All four are expected to follow, with the A’s, across the bay in Oakland from San Francisco’s Oracle Park, having already determined they will open the season April 1 at 20% in the Oakland Coliseum, which seats 46,847 for baseball. In Texas, the Rangers have already announced they will open at 100% capacity in 40,300-seat Globe Life Field.
The Yankees start the season at home on April 1 against the Toronto Blue Jays, while the Mets play their opener at Citi Field April 8 against the Miami Marlins.
Initially all ticket holders at both facilities are required to take an antigen COVID-19 test with negative results or provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to gain admission. The teams are hoping those restrictions and the initial limited capacity will begin to lift on or immediately after May 1.
“The entire Yankees organization—and especially our players on the field—feed off the energy that our loyal and dedicated fans bring to Yankee Stadium,” managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement issued by the club. “Our fans have made our home a preeminent worldwide attraction, and their excitement is the catalyst for the championship goals we set every season. We are thrilled to be able to have them back in 2021 and promise them the highest standards for health and safety this season and beyond.
“We are heartened by the governor’s decision to allow us to begin the season at Yankee Stadium with a 20% capacity and offer our deep appreciation for his office’s diligent work and guidance,” Steinbrenner said.
Yankee Stadium is listed by MLB as having 46,537 seats for baseball, meaning 9,307 will initially be allowed to attend. Citi Field seats 41,922, meaning gates will open to 8,492, the Mets noted in a media release. Fans will be required to wear masks and the seats will be appropriately socially distanced.
“We’re really excited about the season ahead and welcoming the best fans in baseball back safely to Citi Field,” said Steve Cohen, in his first season as Mets owner. “We thank Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and the state’s Department of Health for their efforts in this significant step in New York’s recovery from COVID and look forward to continuing to work with them as capacity restrictions and testing requirements hopefully ease in the months ahead—to allow as many fans as possible to have a safe and great time with us.”
The state of New York had originally allowed 10% attendance at ballparks and arenas, and all of the New York-based hockey and basketball teams have been playing at that capacity since Feb. 23, with the Islanders only now beginning to entertain fans, who have needed proof of a negative COVID test to attend any games.
There are different rules and restrictions, depending on local and state protocols, around the rest of the nation.
Last year, during its COVID-abbreviated 60-game season, fans were not allowed to attend regular season games and through the opening two rounds of the playoffs. Fans also could not go to the American League Championship Series played at San Diego’s Petco Park.
In Arlington, though, the National League Championship Series and World Series were played in front of about 11,500 fans for each of the 12 games.