Orioles allowing fans inside Camden Yards at 25 percent capacity

In the latest sign that Major League Baseball is moving in carefully measured increments toward the normalcy that didn’t exist last summer, the Orioles are allowing fans back into Camden Yards at 25 percent capacity to begin the 2021 season.

In observation of social distancing guidelines and approved capacity limits, the club will begin the season by hosting approximately 11,000 fans per game, according to a press release issued this morning. As the public health situation improves, the Orioles will consult with the city, state and Maryland Stadium Authority to increase attendance numbers without ignoring public health and safety in the ballpark.

The home opener is April 8 against the Red Sox.

The noise will be real.

“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,” John Angelos, Orioles chairman and CEO, said in a statement. “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.”

orioles-fans-kids-pumped.jpgThe Orioles are implementing pod seating throughout the ballpark to guarantee proper spacing of six feet between ticket holders, and fans must wear masks, covering the nose and mouth, unless eating or drinking at their seats. Neck gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are not permitted.

Social distancing practices and enhanced security measures will also be enforced upon entry and throughout the ballpark.

The reseating process for Birdland Memberships will begin immediately.

Paper tickets will be replaced by digital versions. Cash payments will not be accepted, with credit and debit cards the only allowed methods, including at parking lots, concession stands and ticket windows.

“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,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in the statement.

“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 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,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “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.”

Hogan announced earlier this week an allowance of 50 percent maximum capacity, but the final decision rested with the city, team and MSA, which owns Camden Yards.

Opening day is April 1 in Boston.

“It’s huge for us, it’s huge for our players, coaches,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Great to have fans in the stands for spring training games and 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 to know there’s going to be people in the stands this summer.”

Opening day tickets are reserved for Birdland Members. The other single-game tickets will go on sale at a later date.

The sport shut down exactly one year ago today. Fans have been able to attend exhibition games in Sarasota at limited capacity.

“Definitely a lot different,” Hyde said. “It’s nice to have a buzz in the crowd, it’s nice when we score a run or do something positive, there’s cheering. Last summer, you wouldn’t hear anything; you’d just hear your own dugout or the opposing dugout, so to have the fans cheering our guys on, have fan reaction to plays, it’s a noticeable difference and I can’t wait for that to happen this summer.”

Meanwhile, Hyde said infielder Richie Martin could play Sunday or Monday. Martin will hit Saturday and remains in the running for a roster spot.

“I’d like to get him as many at-bats, see how the hand reacts in the next couple weeks,” Hyde said. “But I think you can get ready in two weeks as a position player. We’ll see how it goes, see how his hand is.”

Third baseman Rio Ruiz is feeling better and could play Sunday or Monday. He’s going to work out Saturday.

Today’s pitchers are John Means, Hunter Harvey, Paul Fry, César Valdez and Isaac Mattson.

Left-hander Wade LeBlanc starts Saturday against the Blue Jays, his first appearance since March 3, and Dean Kremer starts Sunday against the Tigers.

For the Phillies
Roman Quinn RF
Scott Kingery CF
Odúbel Herrera DH
Alec Bohm 1B
C.J. Chatham SS
Travis Jankowski LF
Nick Maton 3B
Jeff Mathis C
Ronald Torreyes 2B

Zack Wheeler RHP

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