With COVID-19 infection rates soaring at the outset of baseball’s 2020 relaunch, even a TV-only season seems like a tall order. Nevertheless, Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner offered a surprisingly optimistic tone regarding the return of fans to Yankee Stadium this year, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports.
“I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree,” says Steinbrenner. There are limitations to the vision, naturally. Even the KBO, which has been playing now for some time, has yet to reintroduce fans and will do so on a limited basis when the time comes. Steinbrenner guesses attendance will “be in the 20-30 percent [capacity] range, hopefully, at first.”
Still not sold on the plausibility of that plan? Steinbrenner says it can be pulled off, claiming “it’s definitely possible in the stadium to keep people at a safe distance, wearing masks at those capacities.” And he says the team has already had plenty of promising interactions with New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The state’s top elected official has “been a big advocate to getting sports back on the field and then eventually, when things are safe, to get fans back in the stadium,” Steinbrenner says.
If and when the Yankees faithful are allowed back in the park, they’ll evidently do so in an unfamiliar formation. As you might expect, in addition to being asked to don masks, fans will be expected to spread out. Steinbrenner says that the team has worked with Ticketmaster at “putting a diagram together which would keep everybody at least 6 feet apart.”
First, the Yanks will need to make it through camp and get games underway. The team is mindful of the need to maintain a healthy roster. Steinbrenner says the org is committed to ensuring “that everybody is safe, everybody is keeping their distances and following the protocols” during the second training period.