“Pro sports can resume with a waiver, and can apply to host fans after 3/22,” Washington Post writer Julie Zauzmer reported on Twitter early on Monday afternoon while monitoring D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s press conference on the lifting of some pandemic restrictions in the nation’s capital.
Washington’s Nationals were playing the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter, FL as they prepare for the start of the 2021 campaign on April 1st.
“That is awesome,” manager Davey Martinez said upon learning that it seemed likely there would be fans in the stands, before the team’s official announcement of their plan to have 5,000 fans in the park on Opening Day.
“Thank you, Mayor,” Martinez said. “Long time coming. I’m so excited to see our fans. Like I’ve said before, they’re our 27th man. I’m looking forward to seeing them. I know we’ve still got some ways to go, but that’s a good step forward. Very excited that fans will be back in [Nationals Park].”
“To me it seems obvious we can have fans,” Max Scherzer told reporters after making his third start of the spring.
“If we can have indoor dining, I think we can have fans in an outdoor stadium.
“We have Dr. Fauci advocating for 25-30% fans in the stands, so that’s where, like I said, I’ll follow the experts. And that’s what you see across the league.
“Everybody is for the most part is trying to follow that 25-30% as we start the season and that’s going to be great.
“We definitely want to see as many Nats fans out there as safe as we can, and that seems to be probably the most pragmatic way to handle it.”
Hours later, the approval of their plan to have fans in the park was official, and now the Nats have announced their plan to have 5,000 fans in Nationals Park for the 7:09 PM opener with the New York Mets on April 1st in D.C. (and on ESPN).
“The Washington Nationals, with approval from the Government of the District of Columbia and Major League Baseball, today announced that Nationals Park will welcome fans back to the ballpark for the 2021 season, beginning on Opening Day, Thursday, April 1 against the New York Mets.”
The club, “... will implement appropriate social distancing and safety measures that will allow Nationals Park to host fans beginning on Opening Day. Discussions will begin this week with officials from the District about increasing capacity for the second homestand, which begins April 15.”
Managing Principal owner Mark D. Lerner made the following statement in a press release on the decision:
“We are happy to welcome a limited number of the best fans in baseball back home to Nationals Park on Opening Day. Our organization has worked tirelessly with the District of Columbia, nationally-renowned health experts, including Crown & Company, whose principals have guided FIFA and the IOC, and also Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, as well as Major League Baseball, to craft protocols to ensure the safety and well-being of our players, coaches, employees, and our fans as we reopen the ballpark to the public. We look forward to increasing our capacity in the coming weeks.
“We cannot wait to have our fans in the stands again, wearing red and cheering on the Nats, as we begin our quest for another World Championship.”
There is plenty of information on tickets and guidelines and safety measures in the press release on the news.
The Washington Nationals, with approval from the Government of the District of Columbia and @MLB, will welcome fans back to Nationals Park on Opening Day.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 16, 2021
// https://t.co/nAh9X4Z7gp pic.twitter.com/dOMvFwNt0N
Barring any changes in the next few weeks. We won’t have to listen to pumped in crowd noise in Nationals Park. We can all be thankful for that.
Also watch Ryan Zimmerman hit his third home run of the spring: