MLB fans set to return to California stadiums

Major League Baseball teams in California have welcomed the news that restrictions on fan attendance in the state will be lifted ahead of the start of the season next month.

Fan attendance will be dependent on what tier of the COVID-19 alert system cities are in. Stadiums located in the purple tier will only be allowed to welcome 100 people, but capacity will be increased to 20% in the red tier, 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier.

Following the news, each of California’s five MLB teams – the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants – said they would look to welcome fans for the new season, which gets underway on April 1.

The Oakland A’s, in cooperation with Alameda County and MLB, said they have received approval to welcome fans back to the Oakland Coliseum for Opening Day. The team will introduce seated pods in groups of two or four seats, with mobile-only ticketing to be implemented and mask wearing to be mandatory while in the stadium.

The Angels are based in Orange County, which is currently in the purple tier, but the team is hopeful that the area will move into the red tier before Opening Day. This would allow around 9,000 fans to attend games at Angel Stadium (pictured).

The Dodgers are set to announce health and safety protocols for fans, as well as a ticket policy for reduced capacity, in the coming days. The Dodgers will work with local officials to monitor the health situation in the hope of adding greater capacity as the season progresses.

The Padres’ chief executive Erik Greupner said that the team “expects” fans to be at Petco Park on Opening Day. Priority access will be given to Padres season ticket members during the 2021 regular season.

San Francisco County moved into the red tier last week, which would enable the Giants to welcome around 8,000 fans to Oracle Park. The Giants will submit operational plans for review and approval by local health officials ahead of the expected return of fans.

The change in guidelines will also open the door for California’s three Major League Soccer teams – LA Galaxy, LAFC and San Jose Earthquakes – to welcome back fans. The ruling does not apply to indoor arenas, meaning that the state’s NBA and NHL teams will have to wait before spectators are allowed back at games.

In other news, the state government in Western Australia has announced that outdoor and indoor venues can open at 75% capacity. The ruling will allow major venues such as Peth’s Optus Stadium, HBF Park, RAC Arena and HBF Stadium to welcome more fans to sports and entertainment events.

Attendance at venues had previously been capped at 50% but the new guidelines will come into effect on March 15. Optus Stadium, which has a capacity of 60,000, would potentially be able to welcome up to 45,000 fans for upcoming AFL matches.

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