Yankee Stadium in 2020 was an eerie spectacle. It seemed so unnatural for there to be no fans in sight, and yet the team still played a competitive season that saw them fall just shy of the ALCS (though the final games were played at a neutral site). It was grim, but it was the right call given the dire straits caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
As vaccinations slowly roll out to the general public, numerous MLB teams around the game have worked with local governments to announce that fans will return to their stadiums in 2021. During the off-day on Thursday, the Yankees, the Mets, and the state of New York jointly announced that fans would be coming back to Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in 2021 as well. It won’t be without limits because that would be incredibly irresponsible with so many people still at risk, but New York City ballparks will be open at 20-percent capacity.
The New York Yankees, in conjunction with New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Health, today announced that Yankee Stadium would open to a 20% capacity to start the 2021 regular season.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 18, 2021
Please go to https://t.co/IdzDGMRO1R for more info. pic.twitter.com/E2Rg1dXDK3
Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that at 20-percent capacity, Yankee Stadium will be permitted to have 10,850 fans in attendance, beginning on Opening Day (April 1st). The limited capacity will remain intact until at least April 21st. The Yankees hope to ease restrictions a little more by mid-May.
Season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets, and any transactions will be cashless with mobile tickets. The tickets will be sold in pods and on sale to the general public “shortly.”
All fans who wish to attend will have to either take a COVID test or provide proof of vaccination, and they must wear a face mask at all times unless they’re eating or drinking.
VERY IMPORTANT FOR FANS IN NEW YORK: To begin the season, each guest in attendance will be required to take a PCR or antigen COVID-19 test with negative results or provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination. https://t.co/D0mTJ6IuqR— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) March 18, 2021
CC Sabathia was part of the press conference announcing the limited capacity, and he voiced his encouragement while also noting that the fight against COVID isn’t over just yet:
CC Sabathia: "As a fan now, being able to be in the stadium cheering on the Yankees, I’m just excited. Continue to get vaccinated, do the right things and let’s continue to battle this thing so by the end of the season we can have a full stadium for the World Series.”— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 18, 2021
One can certainly debate whether or not it’s ethical for the Yankees to allow fans in the stands at all when so many folks have yet to be vaccinated and people are still getting sick. However, given that it’s a near-lock that every other team will permit some portion of fans at the start of 2021 (even the D.C.-based Nationals are allowing 5,000 fans), it was inevitable that the Yankees would so as well. A good portion of fans will be raring to go sit in the seats and watch some Aaron Judge dingers.
I think I ultimately fall in the same camp as Bradford William Davis of the Daily News. At the end of the day, 20-percent outdoor capacity is most likely fine at this point, but we need to also stay vigilant and not let our guards down.
upping to 20% is probably OK (outdoors, negative test/vaccine required for entry) but NYC's COVID rate has plateaued around 6-7% -- an unsurprisingly generous read from the governor https://t.co/0KJs0xmmee— Bradford William Davis (vaccine papi) (@_beewilly) March 18, 2021
If you do go to a Yankees game, please follow the rules and wear your masks. We’re so close to the finish line, and I personally can’t wait to get vaccinated so that I’ll feel comfortable watching live baseball once again.