Giants and A’s fans have a new reason to be excited for Opening Day: A limited number of fans will be allowed at Oracle Park and the Coliseum when the MLB season begins.
That means no more cardboard cutouts (likely) or piped in noise, like fans had to settle for while watching games on TV during the pandemic-abbreviated 60-game season in 2020.
Based on new guidelines released by the California Department of Public Health on Friday, the state’s five MLB stadiums can open their gates to fans based on what tier their county is in. The policy goes into effect April 1.
The Giants will be allowed 20 percent capacity at Oracle Park — about 8,300 fans — beginning with their home opener April 9 against the Colorado Rockies because San Francisco is in the red tier, the second-highest of the four tiers. San Francisco went from purple, the worst tier, to red on Wednesday. The Giants open their season April 1 on the road against the Seattle Mariners.
Alameda County remains in the purple tier, but is on track to move into the red tier for Opening Day on April 1 at the Coliseum vs. the Houston Astros, which could mean about 11,000 fans. The purple tier only allows for up to 100 fans at games, with no concessions sold.
Needless to say, the Giants and A’s welcomed the news — with the appropriate caution.
“The Giants are very encouraged by Governor (Gavin) Newsom’s announcement today updating state guidelines that would permit fans to attend baseball games at Oracle Park, subject to final approval by local health officials,” the team said in a statement. “Given that San Francisco is currently operating in the red tier and conditions are steadily improving, we are hopeful that we can welcome a limited number of fans back to Oracle Park beginning with our home opener on April 9.”
“We are excited to safely welcome fans back to our ballpark for the upcoming season,” A’s President Dave Kaval said in a released statement. “We thank Governor Newsom for his leadership and guidance during this process, and Alameda County for partnering with us to develop a comprehensive plan that complies with local health directives and provides a safe experience for our fans, employees, players, and vendors.”
Because the policy doesn’t go into effect until April 1, no fans will be allowed at the Bay Bridge Series games between the Giants and A’s on March 28 at Oracle Park or March 29 at the Coliseum.
California’s other three MLB teams — the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres — are currently in the purple tier, with hopes of being in the red tier for their home openers.
As COVID-19 infection rates continue to go down in each county, the number of fans allowed will go up.
When a county reaches the orange tier, stadium capacity increases to 33 percent. In the yellow tier — the least restrictive of the four — it reaches 67 percent. No concessions are allowed to be sold in the orange tier, but they are allowed in the other tiers.
Masks will be required in the stadium. The A’s said all tickets will be mobile — meaning mostly through the free MLB Ballpark app — and all transactions, including parking, will be cashless. The Giants are likely to adopt similar measures. The Giants said they will be submitting operational plans to local health officials “in the coming days.”
Tickets for the purple tier, which at the moment includes the A’s, are to be sold only to fans in the region. For the other three tiers, only in-state fans are eligible.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, the state had 3,493,126 cases of coronavirus with 53,448 deaths. San Francisco has reported 423 deaths, while Alameda County has reported 1,281, according to state data.