The Orioles will allow about 11,000 fans, 25 percent capacity, at games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for the 2021 season, the club announced on Friday.
The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of the cancellation of spring training.
In a statement, the team said, “As the public health situation improves, the Orioles will consult with the City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, and the Maryland Stadium Authority to increase attendance numbers while continuing to prioritize public health and safety throughout the ballpark.”
The Orioles’ home opener is on April 8th at 3:05 pm against the Boston Red Sox. The stadium’s listed capacity is 45,971.
“It’s huge for us,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s huge for our players, coaches, great to have fans in the stands for spring training games … really looking forward to seeing the home fans back at Camden Yards this summer. They bring us a lot of energy. They create a great environment for us, and it’s exciting news that there are going to be people in the stands this summer.”
The team said it would continue to administer hundreds of tests each week and partner with Major League Baseball, city and state officials to implement healthy protocols to ensure the safety of fans.
As has been done at other ballparks and at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida for spring training, the Orioles will use “pod” seating throughout the ballpark to guarantee social distancing of 6 feet between each group of ticket-holders.
Season ticket-holders might be relocated. Once the seating process is complete, an announcement of single-game ticket sales will be made. The home opener will be reserved for season ticket-holders.
Fans will be required to wear masks, covering the nose and mouth at all times unless eating or drinking at their assigned seats. Neck gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are not permitted.
There will be no physical tickets. Fans will use digital ticketing and can access tickets and parking passes on their mobile devices through the MLB Ballpark App.
No cash payments will be accepted at the ballpark.
Gates will open one hour before games. Kids Run the Bases, which took place after Sunday games, will not take place until further notice.
“The long-awaited return of fans is the result of successful nation-wide 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,” said John Angelos, Orioles Chairman and CEO.
“Just as we did in 2020, the Orioles will remain vigilant in our efforts and will continue to consult medical experts every step of the way as we invite fans back to Oriole Park at Camden Yards to enjoy another successful baseball season.”
Said Governor Larry Hogan: “The Orioles play a critical role in our roadmap 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. 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.”
“Sustaining the health and safety of Baltimore residents is my number one priority, but achieving this requires an all-hands-on-deck effort. I am grateful to have the Baltimore Orioles as a trusted partner as our community works tirelessly to control the spread of COVID-19,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. “The Orioles have been a part of our community for decades, and I am confident that the organization will protect the health of their fans by following the safety guidelines set forth by the City of Baltimore, State of Maryland, and Major League Baseball.”
The Orioles say they will invite local frontline and healthcare workers to games to honor their work during the pandemic.