A's, Giants prepare to host fans as soon as Opening Day (2024)

Around this time of year, followers of the A’s and Giants are usually wondering about who’ll win a position battle in the Cactus League or which pitcher might start on Opening Day. But in 2021, one could argue that the most pressing concern for many fans has been whether they’d be allowed to attend games in person this season. A handful of fans have been in attendance at exhibition games in Arizona (between 750 and 1,000 fans at Scottsdale Stadium and up to 2,000 fans for A’s exhibitions in Mesa), and it appears that limited numbers of fans will be in the stands when the local baseball teams return to the Bay Area in a few weeks.


The A’s released the following statement on Friday afternoon: “The Oakland A’s, in cooperation with Alameda County and Major League Baseball, announced they have received approval to welcome fans back to the Oakland Coliseum for the 2021 season, beginning on Opening Day, Thursday, April 1. A’s FlexTix, undated and flexible single-game ticket vouchers, are on sale now for all regular season home games.”

The Giants’ home opener isn’t until April 9. And though the team released an optimistic statement of its own, the path to allowing fans back into Oracle Park might not be as clear as it is in Alameda County. The team released the following statement:

“The Giants are very encouraged by Governor Newsom’s announcement today updating state guidelines that would permit fans to attend baseball games at Oracle Park, subject to final approval by local health officials. The updated state guidelines for ballparks and other outdoor venues allow for a limited number of fans seated in socially-distanced pods in counties operating in the red tier or better. Given that San Francisco is currently operating in the red tier and conditions are steadily improving, we are hopeful that we can welcome a limited number of fans back to Oracle Park beginning with our home opener on April 9.

“Health and safety is our number one priority and we have been working over the past several months to develop plans and protocols to ensure a safe experience for our fans, employees and the community as a whole. In the coming days, the Giants will submit our operational plans for review and approval by the local health officials and we eagerly look forward to safely welcoming fans back to Oracle Park.”

In other words, while the Giants would love to host fans as soon as possible, San Francisco must first give the OK. And with California’s four-tiered reopening system, the number of fans allowed to pass through the turnstiles can fluctuate.

SF County moved to the red tier on March 3 and must remain there for at least 3 weeks. If the county data meets criteria for orange over the next 2 weeks (it currently does), it can move March 24. Same with yellow. April 14 would be the earliest date the Giants could welcome 28K.

— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 5, 2021

The Coliseum has a listed seating capacity of about 47,000 with tarps on certain sections. So with Alameda County in the red tier, the A’s would be able to host roughly 9,400 fans. Attendance figures under 10,000 may seem paltry in this era, but the Giants averaged fewer than 8,000 fans at Candlestick Park from 1974 to 1976 and the A’s average attendance was lower than 10,000 in six of their first 11 seasons after moving to Oakland (including 3,787 fans per game in 1979).

Last year’s truncated season, held with teams playing in virtually empty stadiums, was a surreal experience for everyone involved. So even though we won’t see packed houses on either side of the Bay anytime soon, teams will happily accept whatever level of attendance their respective government officials will allow.

“It’ll mean so much for us to have fans in the stands,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said during a Friday Zoom call. “Universally we feel more supported, more engaged, more excited when our fans are behind us. Obviously, we have a job to do no matter what the surroundings are, but San Francisco Giants fans make our baseball games better and it’s really good news.

“We want to share this experience with the fans and in some ways, we feel like the game is not fully the game without our fans around. It kind of feels like we’re in a partnership with them, and so we feel like something is missing when they’re not in the stands. As far as Scottsdale goes, surprisingly, (it) feels like there’s a lot of people here. It’s a huge boost to the energy levels, and we really missed our fans in 2020.”

A’s manager Bob Melvin’s postgame media session occurred before it was announced that fans would be allowed to return to games in California’s outdoor stadiums, but A’s president Dave Kaval signaled his approval in the team’s prepared statement.

“We are excited to safely welcome fans back to our ballpark for the upcoming season,” Kaval said. “We thank Governor Newsom for his leadership and guidance during this process, and Alameda County for partnering with us to develop a comprehensive plan that complies with local health directives and provides a safe experience for our fans, employees, players, and vendors.”

(Photo: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

A's, Giants prepare to host fans as soon as Opening Day (1)A's, Giants prepare to host fans as soon as Opening Day (2)

Steve Berman is a staff editor and writer for The Athletic. He edits MLB content and focuses his writing on Bay Area sports, with an emphasis on local media. Before joining The Athletic he founded Bay Area Sports Guy, which became the top independent site in the region, and covered local sports for Bay Area News Group and NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow Steve on Twitter @BASportsGuy

A's, Giants prepare to host fans as soon as Opening Day (2024)


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