Issue No. 4 | April 2021

Thousands of Coronavirus vaccines are being distributed every day in Michigan. In combination with relaxed COVID-19 restrictions announced in March, the momentum on vaccination efforts could have an impact on in-person attendance at sporting events and shape the near future of sports fandom in Detroit. For the first time since 2019, baseball fans celebrated Opening Day on April 1st at Comerica Park.

Ticketed fans entered Comerica Park at three different gates where they were required to leave bags and purses behind and reminded to wear a face covering. There was no tailgating and nearby restaurants and bars adhered to a 50% capacity rule. The atmosphere downtown might have been more subdued than rowdy, but fans were overjoyed for the comeback of one of Detroit’s treasured holidays. Even the cold weather didn’t disappoint. We all know that snow flurries are nearly a prerequisite to welcome the start of a new baseball season in the “D.”

Comerica Park worked with local health and medical experts and government officials to develop a plan to open the park safely. The venue is operating under CDC guidelines and has made safety a top priority. Measures include a designated disinfecting team that disinfects high traffic areas, restrooms, handrails, door handles, countertops and seating areas. There is plenty of hand sanitizer available throughout the park.

The seating limit in Comerica Park is currently at 8,200 up from 1,000 last year. Attendees are required to fill out a wellness survey within 24 hours of entering the park and to present confirmation of that survey when entering. A snug fitting facemask that covers the nose and mouth is mandatory as well as social distancing. Face shields, bandanas and neck gaiters are not sufficient. Fans can purchase food and drink at select locations in the park but must eat at their seats. Points of sale will require cashless payment methods such as credit and debit cards. Seats are socially distanced from other groups of seats and patrons will be dismissed by rows at the end of the game.

This season, we look forward to the smell of roasted almonds and fake, melty, yellow cheese. Maybe one or two of us will catch a foul ball. For those of us watching at home, we look forward to hearing the triumphant whoops and the throaty boos of an in-person crowd instead of the artificial cheers that haunted the 2020 season. Whatever this new season may look (smell and sound) like, we will continue to root for our home team. Go Tigers!

Sources: Guest Health & Safety Handbook | ‘My Favorite Day’: Fans revel in Opening Day

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