RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - For the first time since September 2, 2019, minor league baseball will hit the field at The Diamond. Capacity is at 30 percent to begin the season, so Flying Squirrels’ vice president and chief operating officer Todd “Parney” Parnell took us around the ballpark and showed us what fans can expect if they are coming to the opening homestand.
Social distancing will be required upon entrance. The team is asking fans to remain six feet apart at all times while maneuvering around the stadium. Masks should always be worn, unless eating or drinking or if a medical condition prevents one from doing so. In addition, bags are prohibited at the ballpark in 2021, except for diaper bags or medical bags.
The Squirrels are using pod seating in the stands. Seats not cleared for use have been zip-tied shut, while those meant for fans are easy to operate. While capacity is beginning at 30 percent, the governor has approved a relaxed restriction that will allow up to 50 percent of full capacity beginning on May 15. The Squirrels are working to determine when and by how much they’ll be able to allow more fans through the gates, based on current social distancing mandates.
Baseball fans will notice more space on the main concourse behind home plate. There are not as many food, drink or concession stands in the area in order to allow space for spectators to spread out, but concession stands on each side of the stadium are open for business with all of the favorite stadium refreshments. Cash will be permitted to begin the season, but the organization is working towards becoming entirely cashless as the campaign progresses.
Team mascots Nutzy and Nutasha will be visible during games, but Parney says they will not be mingling with fans as much as they normally do. A table will be set up in the kids zone area that will allow fans to safely greet and say hello to Nutzy and Nutasha.
Players, coaches and umpires will be separated from spectators at all times. Autographs are prohibited to begin the 2021 campaign, but Parney is hopeful that things like autographs and kids running the bases will return before the season’s end.
Fans will also note that standing areas, such as the right field party deck, will not be as accessible as they have been in past years. The team will be making standing pods available for purchase in order to keep spectators spread out and to allow for easier contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 test. With that said, group outings will be permitted at The Diamond during the 2021 season.
First pitch for Tuesday’s season opener against Hartford is set for 6:35. That contest is sold out, but fans can purchase tickets to other games during the homestand by clicking here.
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