Local officials will continue monitoring the District's COVID-19 status.
Good news for baseball fans: the Washington Nationals are playing at Nats Park this spring. The catch? The stadium has to be empty.
On Tuesday, the team received approval from local officials to play home games at the stadium for the upcoming 2021 season, with the caveat that no fans attend them. The team completed a request on February 12 to DC Government, Homeland Security, and the Emergency Management Agency for how to proceed amid COVID-19.
A letter from HSEMA Director Dr. Christopher Rodriguez states that hosting fans at the park remains uncertain as the District contends with public safety concerns, particularly vaccine rollout and possible variants in the virus.
“We are looking forward to fans returning to Nats Park. Answers as to how many and when are still premature,” he said.
The letter outlines specific requirements for the team to adhere to following their approval. Team members or staff who fall ill must report it to the DC Department of Health, and stadium facilities can be subject to health inspections by the appropriate agencies.
The first game of the season is on Thursday, April 1 against the New York Mets.
It's been a hot minute since the baseball team played a normal game. Their 2020 season was cut short in the wake of the pandemic; the team played to an empty crowd in the 41,000+ capacity park. Manager Dave Martinez hopes fans will be able to cheer them on from the sidelines this time around. He told WUSA, "I said it before, we miss our fans. They're the 27th man. We want them in the stadium. It would be nice to get them in there for opening day."
In the meantime, officials will continue monitoring the public health situation and make adjustments when necessary. While it's likely the team will proceed with an empty stadium, a change could be on the way: talks of ticket sales for fans are on the table, and more concrete info will be provided later this month. So stay tuned! We'll be on stand-by.
Nationals fans, how do you feel about this news? Are you hoping to catch a game in person? Sound off in the comments.