Recent warmer weather may have you thinking about getting back to gardening, grilling and perhaps baseball this spring.
One place that will have a lot more of the sport than it did last year is Portland, Maine, with the Sea Dogs playing again relatively soon at Hadlock Field. After a canceled 2020 season, Opening Day is set for May 4.
According to the team’s general manager, Geoff Iacuessa, there is no official word from Maine officials on whether or not in-person spectators could be allowed at limited capacity, but he is “really optimistic” that at least some fans will be allowed in seats.
“We know we can set the park up to about 28% and keep fans six feet apart from each other, so that’s the most we’ll be able to seat,” he said, noting that the state may cap attendance at fewer people than that.
Iacuessa also said that any spectators allowed in will have to follow new COVID-19 protocols that will be put in place at the stadium. Fans will have to wear masks unless eating or drinking, some seats will be blocked off and there will be more signage directing them to certain entrances and pathways along with hand sanitizing stations.
“It’s very similar to what you see everywhere else,” Iacuessa said.
Both casual and rabid Sea Dogs fans in Greater Portland say a return to limited normalcy is very welcome and the demand for tickets to games is there even though the Sea Dogs will not have played for roughly 600 days by May 4.
“If we can do it in moderation, in a safe way, with some distance between the seats then I think, ‘okay’, said Nancy Trueworthy of South Portland, adding that she would “like to go to a Sea Dogs game” because she thinks “they’re wonderful,” but she’s “a little hesitant about going to a crowded spot right now.”
John Homes of Westbrook said he would, “love to go finally see a baseball game in person,” and even having “25 percent of the people in there” would “be exciting.”
Iacuessa says the Sea Dogs hope to have an answer about in-person spectators and ticket sales for May games by late March or early April.
He did say the team wants to work with state officials to come up with a very safe plan, adding that there is no reason to pressure anyone to get fans into the stadium quickly. “We don’t want to rush anything, we don’t want to rush any decision, that’s not necessary,” he said.