It’s Time to Play Baseball in New York City

It’s an unusual baseball season already. Showing proof of vaccination or testing, sitting apart from your neighbors, and not dancing to YMCA is a very weird start. But, let’s cheer for the Bronx Bombers and the Amazins and say good riddance to cutout fans. It’s time to play baseball.

Increasing numbers of vaccinated sports fans and a bit of hindsight about how the virus spreads have helped us get to where we are with limited capacity seating. And within a few months, we should be in a much better position.

Here’s what you need to know if you plan to go the stadiums.

New Attendance Protocols

Courtesy New York Yankees

Going to a Yankees or Mets game will be like traveling to another state or even another country. You must be fully vaccinated or have a Covid test with a negative result no less than three days prior to the first pitch. You’ll need to show your proof of either if you plan to enter the stadium, whether you have a ticket or not. Temperature checks will also be required.

CDC guidelines are being followed by both the Yankees and the Mets. Masks must be worn at all times except when eating or drinking at your assigned “seat pod,” and it is suggested that you bring hand sanitizer and wipes with you as well as wash your hands frequently. You can expect to see signs and a small legion of people reminding you of this around the restrooms, too.

© Meryl Pearlstein

Social distancing will be required. Seating between pods will ensure that rules are followed in the stands but you will be expected to monitor your behavior when you walk through the stadiums. Detailed “Know Before You Go” safety information for the Mets and the Yankees is available on their websites and will be updated as available.

How ‘Bout Them Tickets?

© Meryl Pearlstein

Like the Red Sox and the Yankees playing a game without any excitement, getting a ticket will be another challenge.

Tickets are harder to score than ever. With initial games reduced to 20 percent attendance, and tickets on sale in “waves,” you can expect higher-than-normal prices particularly for popular series like Red Sox vs Mets or Red Sox vs. Yankees. Tickets are being sold in “pods,” meaning that you can only purchase them in pre-defined groups and seating will be strategically scattered throughout the stadiums.  For the initial “limited capacity” games, only 8492 tickets will be sold for the Mets and 10,850 for the Yankees. Tickets for other games will be released at a later date with the hope that capacity restrictions will be relaxed. Stay up to date by checking the websites for the Mets and the Yankees.

For safety’s sake, all ticket purchases will be contactless. None will be sold at the stadiums. Everything needs to be taken care of online and your phone is your entry ticket. Be sure to keep your battery charged or bring a spare as you’ll need to show your phone to return to seat if you go for a bathroom or refreshment break.

Batter Up

Courtesy New York Yankees

Concessions are still being worked out, but as a rule, all purchases will be cashless this year. If you have cash, you can convert it to a pre-paid debit card at a “reverse” ATM, or use your mobile phone or credit card instead. In-seat delivery has been suspended but you can pre-order and pre-pay your food selection on the MLB Ballpark App for express pick-up at designated locations, or just purchase at the stands.

Some of the classic vendors like NY Pinstripe Pilsner at Yankee Stadium have announced their presence at the stadium. Other concessioners will sell familiar local choices like Jersey Mike’s, Nathan’s, Lobel’s and Haru Sushi. There will also be Grab n Go options in two locations. The Mets have confirmed the return of favorites like fuku, Shake Shack, DO Cookie Dough and Pizza Cupcake. It will be interesting to see how Citi Field manages their outdoor craft beer garden space and food stands where people usually crowd and queue en masse.

Check the websites to confirm openings and rules for the various sit-down restaurants or the private clubs like the buffet-heavy Legends Suite Club at Yankee Stadium or the Delta Sky360° Club at Citi Field. Rules change all the time, it seems.

Can We Still Have a Seventh Inning Stretch?

Remember when a seventh inning stretch meant actually stretching your legs and taking a quick walk to grab a beer or hit the loo?  Be smart and try to schedule your break when the crowds are thinnest. Your safety is everyone’s safety.

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