Fans allowed at NLCS, World Series in Texas

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Fans can take themselves out to the ball game for the first time this season during the NL Championship Series and World Series at new Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Major League Baseball said Wednesday that approximately 11,500 tickets will be available for each game. That is about 28% of the 40,518-capacity, retractable-roof stadium of the Texas Rangers, which opened this year adjacent to old Globe Life Park, the team’s open-air home from 1994 through 2019.

“Any time there’s fans in the stands there’s maybe a heightened sense of, this is a real game and it might raise everybody’s play,” said Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who lives in the Dallas area during the offseason.

The World Series is being played at a neutral site for the first time in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It has not been played at one stadium since the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Browns at Sportsman’s Park in 1944.

Some of the seats will be included in presales for Texas Rangers season ticket holders on Friday and registered users on Monday, and others are set aside for MLB and players. MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said the vast majority are expected to be sold to fans.

Tickets are priced at $40-250 for the NLCS and $75-450 for the World Series, lower than in recent years, and 10,550 seats in the regular sections of the ballpark and 950 in suites will be sold in “pods” of four contiguous seats. Tickets are all digital and will be sold for individual games rather than in series strips.

Each pod will be distanced by at least 6 feet and a checkerboard pattern will be used, with alternating rows of seats in the middle or at the ends. Unsold seats will be tied back.

No seats will be sold in the first six rows within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen. Fans will not be allowed to the lowest level, which is reserved for MLB’s tier one personnel, such as players and managers.

Masks are mandatory for fans except while they are eating or drinking at their ticketed seats. Concessions and parking will be cashless, and the team’s concessionaire, Delaware North, is planning wrapped items.

The NLCS is scheduled on seven straight days from Oct. 12-18 and the World Series from Oct. 20-28, with traditional off days between Games 2 and 3 and Games 5 and 6, if the Series goes that far. The Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series all will be played at neutral sites because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It would be an adjustment, but it would be so welcomed by everyone,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Teams that get to that situation and have fans, it’s going to be pretty cool.”

After drawing 65.5 million fans during the 2019 regular season, MLB played the pandemic-shortened 2020 regular season entirely without fans. For the first time since spring training was interrupted on March 12, club employees and player families were allowed to attend first-round playoff games this week.

While Texas is allowing up to 50% capacity at venues, MLB did not anticipate having government permission for fans to attend postseason games at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles or Petco Park in San Diego, where AL playoff games are scheduled.

Globe Life Field has been the site of more than 50 graduations, but the Rangers played their home games in an empty ballpark.

“I feel like a 10-year-old boy coming down the stairs Christmas morning, and they’ve got all of the presents wrapped up, and I can’t open a present,” Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis said. “That’s why, frankly, I’m excited about having the Division Series and League Championship and World Series here in our stadium. At least we’ll get a chance to show it off nationally.”

At AT&T Stadium in the same complex, a socially distanced crowd of 21,708 was 27% of 80,000-seat capacity for the Dallas Cowboys’ win over Atlanta in their home opener on Sept. 20. The roof was closed, but large glass walls at both ends were open.

The Texas Department of Health State Services reported 5,335 new coronavirus cases in the state Wednesday, its highest total since Aug. 25.

MLB made the decision not to sell seats for the Division Series. Gates for the LCS and World Series likely will open 90 minutes to two hours before first pitch.

“I would strongly recommend to Major League Baseball and I think they would concur that we try to play as many games as we can with the roof open,” said Rob Matwick, the Rangers’ executive vice president of business operations. “I do think it would be safer and better for air circulation. If we had storms, rain, obviously we would play with the roof closed, and that’s where the masks and distancing and good hygiene practices all come into play.”

Other than 1944, the only times the World Series was held at one site came in 1921 and 1922, when the New York Giants and Yankees both played home games at the Polo Grounds. Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

toronto blue jays
Thomas Skrlj/Getty Images
1 Comment

TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.