Go-ahead given for fans at Nats Park; Workers are scurrying to get ready!

Photo by Sol Tucker for TalkNats

The D.C. Government gave the green light to the Washington Nationals to host fans to start the season late on Monday. While that number has been initially capped at 5,000, there is optimism that number will grow. All of a sudden behind bolted gates on Tuesday, workers were spread out doing Spring cleaning at Nationals Park. Painters were hard at work and the concrete concourse was being powerwashed while you could hear hammers and saws blazing in the distance. A sweet-16 days to Opening Day!

It seemed that Mayor Bowser would allow some fans, but many who want to attend will be shutout. The team sent out a long email to Season Plan Holders that everyone would be facing seat relocation in this initial plan.

The email read, “We will prioritize bringing our Season Plan Holders back to the ballpark first while our seating capacity remains extremely limited. We look forward to increasing our capacity in the coming weeks, and we will adjust our operations accordingly to welcome back more of our loyal fans at that time. We thank you for your patience and understanding in following these guidelines during this unprecedented time. Welcome home, fans.”

“Season plan holders will be invited to select new seating locations for April games during a one-time socially distanced relocation, which will begin the week of March 22nd.”

“Your typical Season Plan seating location will no longer be available for April games, due to the necessity of socially distancing Nationals Park in accordance with CDC guidelines. All fans will need to be relocated as part of this process.”

This plan to bring fans back to the park might not be the smoothest transition, but it is a chance for those who want to attend to get back to the ballpark for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 World Series. That is over 500 days off the calendar.

The Nats wrote that they want to provide the most flexibility to their Season Plan holders. You will be able to make your seat location decisions on a game-by-game basis, hand-picking the available games and locations that suit you best.

The number of games you will be allowed to select during the Socially Distanced Relocation will be in line with the quantity of April games that were originally part of your Season Plan.

Tickets will be sold in socially distanced pods of 1-6 people.  You will have access to select the pod size matching your quantity of Season Plan seats.

While Nats’ manager Dave Martinez was happy that about 12 percent of the stadium seats would be filled by fans, there were barbs flung on social media on both sides of the aisle. Some wanted more fans, and some wanted no fans due to the COVID pandemic.

“To me, it seems obvious we can have fans,” Max Scherzer said Monday before the announcement was official. “If we can have indoor dining, I think we can have fans in an outdoor stadium. We have Dr. Fauci advocating for 25-30 percent fans in the stands. That’s where, like I’ve said, I’ll follow the experts, and that’s what you’re doing across the league. Everyone for the most part is trying to follow that 25-30 percent to start the season, and that’s going to be great. We definitely want to see as many Nats fans out there as we safely can. That seems to be probably the most pragmatic way to go about it.”

Well Max’s low-end wish of 25 percent was essentially halved at 12.5 percent. Looking at this with a glass half full, 5,000 fans is better than zero.

It is important to understand that the Nats will not force fans to attend. Their unused funds can be rolled over and spent elsewhere on tickets if they don’t want to attend during this restricted time. Unused funds can also roll over to 2022 within the team guidelines.

Also keep in mind, there will be many other safety procedures in place such as using required entrances and exits at specific gates close to seat locations. All fans will be required to wear face coverings, aged 2 and older, except when eating or drinking at your seat.  No cash will be accepted for food or beverage purchases, parking or at team stores.  Hundreds of hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the ballpark. Concession stands will have closeable containers for food items and touchless condiment stations.

We decided to test our theory that the fanbase, and especially season ticket holders for the Nats are older, and would have a higher than normal level of fans who have been vaccinated. Also, the fanbase has doctors and nurses, and other medical professionals and first responders who have received vaccines. On top of that, there are essential workers who had a priority on vaccines. All in all, the poll we put on Twitter only showed about 40% who will not have received vaccines by April 15.

Maybe those numbers surprise you or maybe they do not. But it shows that they can safely bring in fans who have been vaccinated for sure, and there are enough of those people in the DMV to fill the stadium. Everyone who has received the vaccine has proof. Why not scan and email that to the Nationals and build a pre-approved list?

Of course Mayor Bowser would have to agree with that, but isn’t that commonsense? Didn’t people get the vaccine to get their lives back to normal?

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