Major League Baseball announced Tuesday that the league plans to play baseball in 2020. A 60-game regular season is set to start next month and players will report to training camps next week. We now know where and when we'll see the players. But what about fans?
Due to government restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, many ballparks will likely be empty at least at the start of the season. Some states, however, are hoping to include fans in the yard at some point.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been saying for weeks that he wants to allow fans to attend Astros and Rangers games. Abbott has called for Texas stadiums to be half-filled for sporting events.
He reiterated that point Tuesday night despite a surge of positive COVID-19 cases in recent weeks:
Gov. Greg Abbott during interview with KTVT-TV's @cbs11doug today on fans in stands at MLB games in Texas. ' pic.twitter.com/6zftAKG5DD— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) June 23, 2020
Houston Astros owner Jim Crane was asked about having fans at Minute Maid Park this season on Wednesday and told reporters (including MLB.com's Alyson Footer) "that's the plan."
"We still have to go through the player protocol. We're still focused on that," Crane said. "I think the intent at some point is to get the fans in the ballpark." Crane added that having fans purchase tickets as well as concessions and merchandise at the ballpark is the "only thing we can do to counter" financial losses stemming from the pandemic.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently said Chicago could allow fans into Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field this season, with as many as 8,000 fans per venue being allowed (via NBC Sports Chicago).
It's unclear if MLB will have a league-wide policy for allowing fans to attend games. The possibility of having people in attendance was only mentioned one time in the league's 101-page health and safety protocol:
If and when play resumes with fans, Clubs must adhere to all requirements of the 2020 (Best Stadium Operating Practices) unless MLB specifically provides otherwise.
No fan policy seems set in stone, and a lot could change in the weeks before Opening Day. MLB reportedly had 40 players and staff test positive for the coronavirus last week.