The Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team has detailed plans to open Globe Life Field at full capacity when the 2021 season gets underway next month.
No restrictions will be placed on fan attendance at the 40,300-seat stadium, which opened last year. The Rangers would be the first major-league team in the US to host a full-capacity crowd since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.
The move will be made possible after Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that businesses in the state can operate at full capacity. Abbott also lifted Texas’ statewide mask mandate, although the Rangers insisted that masks or face coverings will be required for fans attending games at Globe Life Field.
The Rangers opened Globe Life Field last July without fans in attendance. The stadium was later selected to host MLB’s post-season National League Championship Series and World Series, with a limited number of fans allowed for these games.
Texas has hosted some of the largest crowds in the US since the COVID-19 outbreak, with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys welcoming 21,708 spectators to AT&T Stadium in September for the 40-39 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Following yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) announcement, Neil Leibman, president of business operations and chief operating officer for the Rangers, said: “The Rangers are encouraged that the Governor’s Office has given clearance for us to fully open Globe Life Field at the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
“We will require all those who enter Globe Life Field to wear a mask or face covering, and are working with Major League Baseball on some additional protocols required for player health and safety. We will continue to monitor developments and implement the necessary public health measures. We are excited that Rangers fans will finally be able to experience all that Globe Life Field has to offer.”
Hand sanitising stations will be placed throughout the ballpark, which will operate as a cashless venue as it did in 2020. Tickets will be digital and only credit cards will be accepted at concession stands, with safe distancing to be enforced in concession lines and retail locations.
The Rangers plan on making certain locations of Globe Life Field ‘distanced seating’ sections, which will allow for more space between occupied seats. The sections will be available for all April games except the team’s home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 5.
The Rangers will also offer frontline workers free tickets to two exhibition games against the Milwaukee Brewers on March 29-30, and for all home games in April in designated sections. All season ticket holders will have full access to their ticketed seating locations for the upcoming season, beginning with the two exhibition games against the Brewers.
Elsewhere in MLB, the Colorado Rockies have been given clearance to open Coors Field at 42.6% capacity on Opening Day. The State of Colorado has approved the capacity, which will mean that 21,363 fans can attend Rockies games, an increase on the previously approved 12,500 fans.
The Rockies have implemented the required guidelines from health authorities in Colorado and the city of Denver, as well as MLB. The team will begin selling tickets to April home games today, with Rockies plan holders to be given priority access.
In other news, the Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team has been given the green light to welcome up to 3,500 fans for games at Amalie Arena. The Raptors are playing their 2020-21 home games in Florida due to travel-related COVID-19 restrictions in their native Canada.
The Raptors started the season with 3,800 fans in attendance at Amalie Arena, home of NHL ice hockey team Tampa Bay Lightning, before a spike in COVID-19 cases forced games back behind closed doors.
Fans will return to Raptors games when the team hosts the Utah Jazz on March 19. Mobile ticketing will be implemented, along with cashless concessions, social distancing and mask-wearing.