The Seattle Mariners have announced they have received approval from the State of Washington and King County to host up to 9,000 fans per game at T-Mobile Park, becoming one of the last remaining Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs to confirm their plans.

The announcement comes after Washington Governor Jay Inslee yesterday (Thursday) said the state will move to Phase 3 of the Healthy Washington recovery plan from March 22. This allows the Mariners to have up to 25% capacity at T-Mobile Park, but the franchise has opted for less than that at the 48,000-capacity venue.

The announcement takes effect from the April 1 home season-opener against the San Francisco Giants. The Mariners said the 9,000 limit will initially apply for its first 11 home games. Tickets will be available in small, socially distanced pods of one to six fans, and pods must be members of the same household.

T-Mobile Park will be a cashless venue for the return of fans, with spectators aged two and over required to wear face coverings, except when actively eating or drinking. “We have been working closely with state and local officials the past several months to get ready for this day,” said John Stanton, Seattle Mariners chairman and managing partner.

“The health and safety of our fans, players and employees is our number one consideration. With the guidance of experts and best practices for health and safety, we are thrilled to be able to welcome fans back to T-Mobile Park for the first time since 2019.”

Since T-Mobile Park closed to fans prior to the start of the 2020 season, the Mariners have revamped operations to meet or exceed industry standards in response to COVID-19. Science-based health and safety protocols have been guided by input from public health and medical experts including CDC, DHHS, the World Health Organization as well as University of Washington Health Metrics & Evaluation and Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, the Mariners’ ‘Partners in Health.’

The Mariners have received Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR Facility certification for T-Mobile Park, a performance-based outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for mitigating risks associated with the virus responsible for COVID-19.

The Mariners are among the last MLB teams to be approved for fan attendance by local government. The Washington Nationals, Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays, which will begin the 2021 season at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida, are yet to gain approval. On Wednesday, the Texas Rangers hit the headlines when they detailed plans to open Globe Life Field at full capacity.

In other news, NHL ice hockey team the Vegas Golden Knights has received approval to increase the capacity limit at T-Mobile Arena from 15% to 20%. This means that around 3,473 fans will be permitted to watch future games.

The Golden Knights were last month cleared to welcome fans back to T-Mobile Arena, albeit fewer than they had requested. The Golden Knights had been seeking 20% capacity, once COVID-19 restrictions were eased in Nevada from March 1.

The Nevada Department of Business and Industry said T-Mobile Arena could reopen, but only at 15% capacity, meaning that around 2,600 fans had been permitted.

Image: David Schott/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size