Welcome back to the ballpark

Welcome back to the ballpark

Malinah Jerscheid, Reporter

     After a year-long break, the Baltimore Orioles have welcomed fans back to Camden Yards for opening day of the season. On Thursday, April 8th, 11,000 fans crowded the stands to watch the team play against the Boston Red Sox. 

     The 11,000 cap limit was self-imposed by team officials and only allows for 25% capacity of what the stadium can hold. This rule is a stricter capacity limit than what the state of Maryland has set. Besides the restrictions on how many fans can view the games in person, the team has set out many new policies to adapt to the pandemic.

     The team’s chair and CEO John Angelos stated in an interview with The Baltimore Sun “The long-awaited return of fans is the result of successful nationwide and organizational efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, increase vaccination access for millions of Americans, and strengthen our economy by bringing employees back to work.”

     Face coverings are being required at all times with the exception of eating and/or drinking in the seat assigned to the individual. Additionally, new “pod seating” regulations are being implemented in the 2021 season. Groups of two, four, or six fans will be seated together with at least 6 feet of distance between them and other guests. The regulations on seating arrangements are to better allow for fans to be properly socially distanced. 

     The team has also implemented a new cashless policy in order to help prevent the spread of disease within the grounds. With this new policy, two “Reverse ATM” machines have been added to the park where fans can exchange cash to card in order to purchase from vendors.

    Being able to keep baseball tickets as souvenirs will no longer be available as the team has made the switch to digital ticketing. Complimentary Wi-Fi has been added in order to make technologic life more efficient.

     Despite the changes in this year’s season, the tradition of Opening Day Celebration was held alive. It was complete with a video welcoming back fans, the Ceremonial First Pitch, this year thrown by Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott and Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

    The team’s traditional “10th Man” recipient was awarded; however, the award was renamed this year as “Mo Gaba’s Fan of the Year’ in honor and remembrance of 14-year-old Mosilla “Mo” Gaba, who was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2021.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan expressed his excitement for the return, stating in an interview with The Baltimore Sun “The Orioles play a critical role in our road map to recovery and the team’s dedication to the safety of our community is what will allow us to take that first step in welcoming fans back into the ballpark,” Hogan said in a statement. “We will work closely with the Orioles to ensure the proper guidelines are in place for fans to safely enjoy America’s favorite pastime and educate fans on the importance of getting vaccinated.”