MLB Brings Fans Back To Stands In Globe Life Field's Debut
The announced attendance for last night's NLCS Game 1 between the Braves and Dodgers at Globe Life Field was 10,700, and about 75% of those fans "appeared compliant with the requirement to wear masks," according to Schuyler Dixon of the AP. Some fans in attendance "weren't covering their nose or mouth." MLB said that it was "selling 11,500 tickets per game at Globe Life Field" for the NLCS series. This was the first MLB game of any kind with fans since March 12, when "five Grapefruit League games in Florida were completed as the novel coronavirus caused the shutdown of spring training there and in Arizona." Seats for Game 1 were sold in groups of four, with the empty seats between ticketed sections "secured by zip ties to prevent people from sitting in them" (AP, 10/13).
FOLLOW THE RULES: In L.A., J.P. Hoornstra notes fans attending the games in Texas "must abide by specific restrictions." No seats were sold within "20 feet of the playing field, bullpens or dugouts." A quick scan of Instagram "revealed several social self-sharers proudly flaunting" the mask mandate (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/13). In Dallas, Sam Blum writes there was "just a different energy" in Globe Life Field. Though the people attending only filled a quarter of the venue, it "felt raucous, compared with the rest of the 2020 season." Despite crowd noise still being piped in, the "feel was authentic." The atmosphere "aligned with the significance of the moment" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/13).
TEXAS DREAMS: USA TODAY's Gabe Lacques notes Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been perhaps the "most lenient in welcoming sports back in the pandemic," following his June announcement that collegiate and professional sports venues could reopen with 50% fan capacity. MLB staged neutral-site Division Series games in Arlington and in Houston's Minute Maid Park without fans but "announced its intent to stage NLCS and World Series games" with them in Globe Life Field. All seven World Series games are "sold out," while NLCS tickets "remain for Games 2, 3 and 7." A sampling of fans at yesterday's Game 1 said that the conditions laid out by MLB -- "mandatory face coverings, spaced seating, no reselling of tickets outside a group of four -- played a role in their decision to attend." Lacques writes the "most unsettling visual in this time of pandemic" was in the Grand Slam Team Store in the left field corner, where there was "no COVID-19 related cap on occupants, according to two security guards, and social-distancing was scarce as fans gathered around more popular teams" (USA TODAY, 10/13).
TIMES TO COME? ESPN.com's Jeff Passan wrote even though MLB's decision to allow fans into games is "no longer unique," it is "as much about 2021 as it is 2020." Sources said that behind the scenes, MLB owners have "balked at the idea of playing to empty stadiums next season, and holding the NLCS and World Series with fans will provide the league with proof of concept to see whether it can work as a short-term fix." What happens at the NLCS and World Series "might well be a blueprint for what baseball looks like next spring" (ESPN.com, 10/12).
FAN APPROVAL: In Ft. Worth, Stefan Stevenson writes Globe Life Field received "raves" as fans experienced it in person for the first time. Fan Bobby Brown said, "It's not the most aesthetically pleasing stadium there is on the outside, but on the inside it's beautiful." Fan Jacob Patton said, "It fulfilled all the expectations of what I thought it would be" (Ft. Worth STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/13).