The Texas Rangers are the only Major League Baseball team to invite a full crowd to Opening Day.
With most stadiums allowing only a fraction of fans to attend their first games of 2021, U.S. president Joe Biden said it’s a mistake for Globe Life Field in Arlington to welcome up to 40,300 fans as the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing.
“Well, that’s a decision they made. I think it’s a mistake,” Biden said Wednesday while appearing on SportsCenter. “They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”
The Rangers are starting the season on the road, playing Kansas City on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday before opening their home schedule April 5 against Toronto. It’ll be the first full capacity game in the short history of Globe Life Field, which opened last season but only hosted a limited number of fans for the National League Championship Series and the World Series. The stadium also hosted some fans for a pair of exhibition games against the Brewers this spring.
The Rangers’ health and safety guidelines for Globe Life Field show that social distancing will be required on the concourse and all fans must wear masks except when eating or drinking. There will be hand-sanitizing stations throughout the stadium, as well as mobile ticketing and kiosks that turn cash into prepaid Visa cards for contact-free payments.
“We expect there to be good cooperation and adherence to the mask requirement from Rangers fans,” Rangers executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said. “We saw that for the exhibition games. It's not perfect, but the vast majority of our fans are doing the right thing. In spite of the challenges that the pandemic presents, there is a safe way and a responsible way to conduct events. We look forward to doing that.”
The MLB plans to relax some of its safety protocols for teams once they reach 85 percent full vaccination for Tier 1 employees.
“I would say I'm President of the United States and I got vaccinated,” Biden said. “I don't have an unimportant job. Would I take the vaccine if I thought it was going to hurt me? We have done incredible research on the vaccines and they have shown that they work. We have to get to the point where enough people have taken the vaccine so we diminish the possibility for it to spread."
Related content: MLB Stadiums Surpass 1 Million COVID-19 Vaccinations
Related content: MLB Sets Vaccination Threshold for Return to Normal