Hoping to attend a game at Yankee Stadium this year? However unlikely that may seem amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which delayed Opening Day by four months, owner Hal Steinbrenner remains hopeful of hosting fans this season.
“I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point to some degree,” Steinbrenner told Meredith Marakovits of YES Network on Thursday. “Ticketmaster has been great helping us out, really putting a diagram together which would keep everybody at least six feet apart.”
Steinbrenner acknowledged the stadium won’t be at its full capacity when play resumes this summer, but remains optimistic that fans will still be able to attend games. “I’m sure it’ll be in the 20-30 percent range, hopefully, at first,” said the 50-year-old Steinbrenner, who inherited the team from his late father George Steinbrenner back in 2010. “It’s definitely possible in the stadium to keep people at a safe distance, wearing masks at those capacities.”
While a number of clubs including the Athletics and Giants have indicated fans will not be permitted at games this season, commissioner Rob Manfred is leaving that decision up to individual teams. New York was among the hardest-hit states when the outbreak first began but has leveled off in recent weeks, allowing businesses to gradually reopen.
Steinbrenner said he’s been in touch with Governor Andrew Cuomo, who supports the team’s plans to make Yankee Stadium available to a limited number of spectators. “He’s 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 said of his discussions with Governor Cuomo.
Big-league owners like Steinbrenner are understandably eager to recoup their considerable financial losses after having the season hijacked by COVID-19 and earning money from ticket revenue, even at limited seating capacity, would alleviate some of that burden. Of course, the other side of the coin is that it could create an unfair advantage if some teams are permitted to have fans while others aren’t. Even in jurisdictions with lighter COVID restrictions, between policing the use of masks, keeping social distance and checking fans’ temperatures, reopening may not be worth the hassle for some clubs.
MLB has yet to release its schedule for the upcoming 2020 campaign, though the Bombers will reportedly open their season on the road against the reigning World Series Champion Washington Nationals on July 23. Three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and reigning AL Cy Young runner-up Gerrit Cole are the likely starters for what should be a compelling Opening Day matchup at Nationals Park.