WASHINGTON (AP) — The city government gave the Washington Nationals the go-ahead Monday to have 5,000 spectators at their home games when the regular season begins next month.
The Nationals were one of the few Major League Baseball teams that didn’t already have permission to allow fans this season.
Crowds were banned entirely from all stadiums for the 2020 MLB regular season because of the coronavirus pandemic, although some people did attend postseason games. But with COVID-19 cases decreasing and the distribution of the vaccines increasing, more and more activities are showing signs of returning to normal — or somewhat normal.
Nationals Park’s capacity is a little more than 41,000, so an attendance of 5,000 would represent slightly more than 12% of what the stadium can hold.
“To me, it seems obvious we can have fans. If we can have indoor dining, I think we can have fans in an outdoor stadium,” Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer said Monday.
“We definitely want to see as many Nats fans out there as we safely can,” Scherzer said.
Washington will host the New York Mets on April 1 to begin the 2021 season. That is the beginning of a three-game series, which will be followed by another three games in Washington against the Atlanta Braves.
The Nationals said they will begin talks this week with city officials about increasing the number of fans permitted to attend games starting with the series that begins April 15 against visiting Arizona.
“Long time coming,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “So excited to see our fans. They’re our 27th man. Looking forward to seeing them.”
Tickets to Washington’s home games will be available in “pods” of up to six seats; suites will have reduced capacities.
Face coverings that cover the mouth and nose will be required for everyone 2 years old and over.
No cash will be accepted for purchases of food or drinks, parking or in team stores.
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