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Spring Training: What's Different For Fans This Year Due To The Coronavirus Pandemic

Exterior of TD Ballpark in Dunedin
Carl Lisciandrello / WUSF Public Media
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TD Ballpark in Dunedin is the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays and the home stadium for the Dunedin Blue Jays in the Class A Florida State League.

Grapefruit League changes include reduced seating, schedules based on geography, and restrictions on the type of face coverings that can be worn. Here's a team-by-team guide of what fans can expect.

Spring Training in 2021 was already going to be different from previous years, but Major League Baseball's recently released revision to the schedule and the differing COVID-19 fan policies for each team has made it more complicated than originally thought.

Games will begin Feb. 28 under the revised Grapefruit League schedule. They will be segmented geographically into three groups, to mitigate travel and possible COVID-19 exposure.

The Baltimore Orioles (Sarasota), Detroit Tigers (Lakeland), New York Yankees (Tampa), Philadelphia Phillies (Clearwater), Pittsburgh Pirates (Bradenton) and Toronto Blue Jays (Dunedin) comprise the West Coast group.

The Orioles and Pirates are the only teams that are a part of two geographic groups — West Coast and Southwest Florida.

Beyond the Orioles and Pirates, the Southwest contingent is made up of the Tampa Bay Rays (Port Charlotte), Atlanta Braves (North Port), and the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins (Fort Myers). Both the West Coast and Southwest groups will play 28 games in 30 days.

However, the East Coast division — Houston Astros and Washington Nationals (West Palm Beach), Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals (Palm Beach Gardens) and the New York Mets (Port St. Lucie) will play 24 games in 30 days with six off days.

While each team has to follow 2021 MLB health and safety protocols and limit their fan capacity, what that looks like and what extra measures each team or facility vary.

Here is a team-by-team breakdown of each team's ticket policies and safety protocols:

West Coast

BALTIMORE ORIOLES

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

Ed Smith Stadium Seating Capacity: 25% capacity, approximately 1,833 fans.

Tickets: www.orioles.com/spring. The box office is not open until game day, which given the limited availability, means getting a ticket in person is not plausible. Tickets go on sale Feb. 20.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • The club will implement pod seating throughout the ballpark to ensure proper social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups.
  • Fans must wear CDC-approved masks at all times.
  • Any transactions taking place in the facility must be with credit or debit cards to limit touchpoints.
  • Social distancing practices and enhanced security measures will also be enforced upon entry and throughout the ballpark.

DETROIT TIGERS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium Seating Capacity: Approximately 20%, 2,000 fans.

Tickets: www.tigers.com/springtraining. The Tigers will begin selling spring training tickets at noon Feb. 18.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Seats will be sold in pods, ranging from one to six seats. Each pod will be at least six feet from other pods in all directions. Restricted seats will be closed off.
  • The outfield berm beyond the left-field wall is set to be marked off in 6-foot-by-6-foot spaces, only available for groups of four people or less.
  • Masks must be worn by fans, except when eating or drinking. Masks must be MLB approved, meaning neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with valves are not permitted.
  • Concessions and merchandise sales will be cashless.
  • No bags except medical or diaper bags can be brought into the park.
  • No fan interaction is allowed with players before the game.

NEW YORK YANKEES

George M. Steinbrenner Field Seating Capacity: TBA

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

Tickets: www.yankees.com/springtraining or www.gmsfield.com. The box office is currently closed.

Health Protocols:

  • Guests over two years of age, including those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times except when actively eating or drinking at their seats.
  • Facial shields without an accompanying facial covering will not be allowed.
  • Seating will be sold in pods that range in size from two to six seats.
  • There will be no cash transactions, only debit or credit.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

Spectrum Field Seating Capacity: 25% capacity, approximately 2,200 fans per game.

Tickets: Tickets go on sale on Feb. 19 and are available only through www.phillies.com/springtraining or by calling (727) 467-4457.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • All fans ages 2 and over will be expected to wear a mask at all times, except when actively eating or drinking in their seats.
  • Tickets will be sold in pods of two, three or four per transaction.
  • No bags allowed in the stadium except for diaper bags and medical bags.

PITTSBURGH PIRATES

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

LECOM Park Seating Capacity: 15% capacity.

Tickets: www.pirates.com/springtraining, or starting Feb. 24, the box office. Tickets will first be made available to ticket holders and corporate partners Feb. 17 through Feb. 21. New season ticket packages won’t be made available because of capacity limits and health and safety protocols. Tickets remaining after the pre-sale will be available to purchase Feb. 22, at 10 a.m.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Tickets will be offered by seating pod allotments of two or four tickets per transaction.
  • There will be at least 6 feet of social distancing spaced between each pod.
  • All fans, other than children 2 years old and younger, will also be required to wear face masks while visiting the ballpark. The only exception will be when visitors are eating or drinking while seated.
  • No bags will be allowed except for diaper bags, medical bags, and clutch-style purses smaller than 3.5" x 6.5" in size.
  • Players will not be giving autographs.

TORONTO BLUE JAYS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

TD Ballpark Seating Capacity: 15% capacity.

Tickets: www.bluejays.com/springtraining. Past spring training season-ticket holders will have first access to tickets on Feb. 22, ahead of the public sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 24. The front office and box office are closed, so fans cannot purchase tickets in person.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Tickets will be sold in pods of two or four seats, spaced a minimum of 6 feet apart.
  • Masks for fans 2 and older are required at all times except when eating or drinking in their seats.
  • Symptom screening will occur prior to entry.
  • Concession stands have prepackaged food and utensils.
  • Players cannot give autographs.
  • No fan or media can attend player workouts at TD Ballpark or the Player Development Complex.
  • The parking lot will be restricted during player workouts at both locations.

Southwest

ATLANTA BRAVES

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

CoolToday Park Seating Capacity: 25% capacity.

Tickets: www.braves.com/springtraining or the ticket office. The tickets will go live sometime the week of Feb. 22.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Seats will only be sold in pods of two or four seats to a single ticket buyer.
  • These pods will have at least 6 feet of distancing between other pods and the walkways.
  • Ticket holders will be able to view batting practice from their seats and will not be permitted to approach the field or dugouts.
  • Diaper or medical bags will be the only bags allowed to be screened and into the park.
  • Four entry lines will be used at each gate. Three lines will be dedicated for fans arriving without any bag and one line will be used for fans arriving with a diaper or medical bag.

Boston Red Sox

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

Jet Blue Park Seating Capacity: Capped at 24%, approximately 2,400 fans per game.

Tickets: www.redsox.com/springtraining.com or in person at the ticket office, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Practice fields are closed to fans.
  • Tickets will be sold in physically distanced pods consisting primarily of two to four seats that will allow for at least 6 feet between groups.
  • There will be no tours or open house held this spring training.
  • Fans must follow current CDC guidelines about masks and social distancing.

MINNESOTA TWINS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 19

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

Hammond Stadium at CenturyLink Sports Complex Seating Capacity: 28%, approximately 2,400 fans.

Tickets: www.twinsbaseball/springtraining, or starting Feb. 25, the box office. Exclusive Spring Training Season Ticket Holder presales begin Feb. 18, while remaining inventory is available to the general public beginning Feb. 24.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • The club has developed a physically distanced seating plan utilizing contiguous pods of two or four.
  • Buffer zones will be created between the playing field and the first row of ticketed seats adjacent to both dugouts and bullpens. Guests are not allowed within the designated buffer zones at any time.
  • All on-field personnel are prohibited from signing autographs or engaging in direct guest contact.
  • All guests ages 2 and up are required to wear a mask over their nose and mouth to enter Hammond Stadium and at all times while in the ballpark, other than when actively eating or drinking in their ticketed seat.
  • Touchless transactions are strongly encouraged, while credit card purchases will not require signatures or pins to complete purchase.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

Charlotte Sports Park Seating Capacity: TBA

Tickets: www.rayusbaseball.com/springtraining, but fans can't purchase tickets in person. Season-ticket holders will be given access to tickets first.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Seats are sold in socially distant pods in groups of two through six.
  • Movement in and out of the park will be broken up to prevent a bottleneck at the beginning and end of games.
  • Masks are required at all times except when actively drinking or eating.

East Coast

HOUSTON ASTROS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches Seating Capacity: Approximately 1,600 fans.

Tickets: www.ballparkpalmbeaches.com. The box office is not open until game day, which given the limited availability, means getting a ticket in person is not plausible. Season ticket holders and those who purchased tickets prior to the release of the revised schedule, will be contacted by email and given priority to re-purchase tickets for the new schedule. All remaining tickets then will be on sale starting Feb. 20 for the general public.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Fans are not allowed at the facilities to watch workouts prior to the start of games.
  • Masks are mandatory when not eating or drinking.
  • Virtually everything in the stadiums will be touchless from the entry gates to the rest rooms.
  • Signs and decals will be posted around the stadiums to remind people to socially distance.

MIAMI MARLINS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Seating Capacity: 21% capacity or 1,462 fans.

Tickets: www.rogerdeanchevroletstadium.com. The box office is closed. On Feb. 21, season-ticket holders to Marlins games at Marlins Park will be allowed to purchase single-game tickets. Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Feb. 23.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Fans are not allowed at the facilities to watch workouts prior to the start of games.
  • Masks are mandatory when not eating or drinking.
  • There is a minimum distance of 6 feet between seated groups.
  • Fans have to enter through designated gates.
  • There is no standing-room-only areas available.
  • Tickets can be sold in groups of two, four and six.
  • Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, face coverings with valves, mesh, or holes of any kind, and facial shields without accompanying facial mask are not permitted.
  • No bags but diaper mags, medical bags and clutch style purses smaller than 3.5" x 6.5."

NEW YORK METS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 23

Clover Park Seating Capacity: 20% capacity, approximately 1,400 fans.

Tickets: All tickets must be purchased on www.mets.com/springtraining. Single-game ticket sales for New York Mets spring training season-ticket holders begins at 10 a.m. Feb. 15. Single-game ticket sales for New York Mets season-ticket holders and St. Lucie Mets season-ticket holders begins at 10 a.m. Feb. 18. Single-game tickets for the general public go on sale at 10 a.m. Feb. 20.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Fans will be required to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth at all times on ballpark property other than when actively eating or drinking at their seat.
  • Hand sanitizer stations and social distancing markers have been installed throughout Clover Park.
  • Every location will have a touchless payment option and the Mets encourage fans to use credit or debit cards at all locations.
  • No bags will be permitted except for those that are carried for medical reasons or manufactured diaper bags that accompany infants and young children.
  • Pod seating running from groups of one to six, when purchasing a pod all must be purchased together.

St. Louis Cardinals

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 17

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium Seating Capacity: 21% capacity or 1,462 fans.

Tickets: www.rogerdeanchevroletstadium.com. The box office is closed. On Feb. 21, season-ticket holders to Cardinals games at Busch Stadium will be allowed to purchase single-game tickets. Remaining tickets will go on sale to the general public on Feb. 23.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Fans are not allowed at the facilities to watch workouts prior to the start of games.
  • Masks are mandatory when not eating or drinking.
  • There is a minimum distance of 6 feet between seated groups.
  • Fans have to enter through designated gates.
  • There is no standing room only areas available.
  • Tickets can be sold in groups of two, four, and six.
  • Neck gaiters, open-chin triangle bandanas, face coverings with valves, mesh, or holes of any kind, and facial shields without accompanying facial mask are not permitted.
  • No bags but diaper mags, medical bags and clutch style purses smaller than 3.5" x 6.5."

WASHINGTON NATIONALS

First Pitchers and Catchers Workout: Feb. 18

First Full Squad Workout: Feb. 22

FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches Seating Capacity: Approximately 1,600 fans.

Tickets: www.ballparkpalmbeaches.com. The box office is not open until game day, which given the limited availability, means getting a ticket in person is not plausible. Season-ticket holders and those who purchased tickets prior to the release of the revised schedule, will be contacted by email and given priority to repurchase tickets for the new schedule. All remaining tickets then will be on sale starting Feb. 20 for the general public.

Health and Safety Protocols:

  • Fans are not allowed at the facilities to watch workouts prior to the start of games.
  • Masks are mandatory when not eating or drinking.
  • Virtually everything in the stadiums will be touchless from the entry gates to the rest rooms.
  • Signs and decals will be posted around the stadiums to remind people to socially distance.
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