Following an amended MLB season in 2020 due to COVID-19, fans may now have a chance to see their favorite teams play during spring training.
According to several reports Wednesday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred sent a memo to all 30 teams, saying the season would start on time and include spring training. This upcoming season could potentially include limited fan attendance, with the proposal of selling “pods” of seats for spring training games. These pods would be socially distanced at six feet apart and require masks. Fans will still be unable to attend any spring training workouts that happen off the field.
However, if this plan does go through, the memo clarified the league would not require COVID-19 testing, proof of vaccination, or temperature checks for fans in attendance — and would instead leave those decisions to individual clubs.
It is important to note these plans could still change between now and the expected start of spring training (Feb. 27), pertaining to local and state health mandates surrounding COVID-19.
NFL fans have already seen how these restrictions can affect the season. For example, the San Francisco 49ers had to finish their final weeks in Arizona after Santa Clara county rolled out a temporary ban on all professional, collegiate, and high school sports.
Regardless, the MLB Players Association made it clear they would not accept anything less than a full season after playing under COVID-19 protocols in 2020. Although there were some hiccups while adjusting to those new rules, the players now have the experience of playing under those circumstances.
The implementation of the “taxi squad,” which allowed teams a three-player reserve option in the event an active player tested positive, is something fans could very well see continue into this season.
Likewise, a “buffer zone” between the playing field and fans is part of the plan. The zone will reportedly consist of a six-foot gap between the field and the stands, while the dugout will be 12-feet away from fans.
As it stands, spring training tickets have not gone on sale, but it will be interesting to see how teams will be asked to adapt under another unique MLB season.