Culture / Sporting Life

You Could Attend an Astros or Rangers Game This Season After All — Fans in the Stands is Now in the Ballpark

Take Me Out to the Ball Game?

BY // 06.05.20

Baseball’s butchered just about everything about its potential return. Squabbling between the Major League Baseball owners and players robbed the game of a rare, priceless chance to dominate the national sports conversation by being the first major professional American sports league to come back and play. Instead, baseball’s now behind the NBA, the NHL and even the MLS.

But there could be one silver lining to the whole mess. You could actually get a chance to attend an MLB game in 2020. Most baseball devotees largely assumed they would not be able to go to a game this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It turns out in Texas that may not be the case. In fact, both the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers could return with half full ballparks — which would be a baseball fan’s unexpected dream.

Dallas Morning News reporter Evan Grant — one of the most connected beat writers in baseball — reports that two MLB sources tell him that the league is leaning toward letting local and municipal governments decide if there can be fans in the stands at its games. With Texas Governor Greg Abbott already allowing Texas sports stadiums to reopen at 50 percent capacity under Phase 3 of his reopening plan that seems to clear the path for both the Astros and the Rangers to return with fans in the stands.

Of course, the City of Houston and the City of Arlington — or the county governments — could still object and try to override the governor’s decree, but in past  instances (face masks being required, restaurants capacity rules), the state’s requirements have ultimately prevailed. Abbott has made it clear that he feels his state orders override local disaster rules.

Under Abbott’s current guidelines, Minute Maid Park — with its full capacity of 41,168 — could seemingly reopen with about 20,500 fans at the games. While the Texas Rangers’ new $1.2 billion showcase stadium, Globe Life Field, could open its delayed debut season with about 20,000 fans due to its 40,300 full capacity.

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If — and it’s something of a monster IF with baseball’s billionaire owners and millionaire players both seemingly unconcerned about hurting the game — the important parties can ever agree to restarting, this would be an unexpected bonus for baseball fans. No fans will be able to attend an NBA game the rest of this season under its Walt Disney World bubble return. And the NHL will likely come back with similar realities. The PGA Tour is returning in Fort Worth next week with no fans even though its events are held completely outside.

But going to a baseball game this summer (at least late this summer) suddenly seems very much in play. With fans already paying as much as $25 just to tour the empty Globe Life Field, it’s clear that there would be plenty of interest in filling those 20,000 seats in both Arlington and Houston.

Even if baseball is reduced to a 50 or 48-game regular season, that still means 24 to 25 potential home games at Minute Maid Park and Globe Life Field that fans could be at. Plus potential playoff home games. It’s not close to perfect, but it’s a big step up from zero.

If only the owners and players can actually agree to Play Ball.

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