In California, a color-coded system determined by local infection rates imposes restrictions. Until recently, Los Angeles County was in the strictest purple category that would have restricted 100 fans from attending the LA Galaxy and LAFC soccer games, as well as the Dodgers baseball games.
But the district has now switched to the red level, which enables a capacity of 20 percent of sports facilities. When the Dodgers play their home opener on April 9th, there will be up to 11,200 fans at Dodger Stadium. Orange County also switched to red, allowing 9,000 fans to appear at Angel Stadium. So also San Diego County, which approved 10,000 Padres fans in Petco Park.
And so it goes across the country like a chessboard. The Colorado Rockies can fill their baseball field to just over 42 percent of capacity, or 21,000 fans who must wear appropriate masks. In Missouri, the St. Louis Cardinals can fill up to 32 percent of their stadium, and in Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates can fill 20 percent. In Michigan, however, current regulations mandate that the Detroit Tigers can only accommodate 1,000 fans, though the team says that number could be increased.
In Oregon, state officials have not yet cleared the Portland Timbers men’s and Portland Thorns women’s soccer teams to allow fans access to Providence Park. This also applies to 13 NBA basketball teams, although that number could drop in the coming days.
In fact, the NBA may have the most unified general policy regarding Covid protocols. In the 17 arenas in which fans are currently allowed, no one is allowed to sit in the courtyard and must stand at least 15 feet behind the team benches. Fans with seats within 30 feet of the pitch must present a negative Covid-19 test or pass a quick test on site within 48 hours of the start of the game. They are not allowed to eat.
The NHL has also made adjustments to the ice rink after some outbreaks in the preseason among players and officials in closed games. The plexiglass panels were removed behind the team benches and the penalty boxes to promote air circulation. And on 18 of the 24 US ice rinks on which participation is now or will soon be possible, fans are not allowed to sit behind the benches and penalty boxes or by the glass.
And then there’s Texas …
Then there is the Lone Star state, where Governor Greg Abbott recently lifted all Covid-19 restrictions.
The Texas Rangers took this as an opportunity to provide the full capacity of 40,518 seats for the first three games in their new retractable roof ballpark in Arlington – the first team in North America to do so. At these two exhibition games on March 29th and 30th and at the season opener on April 5th, there will be no protocols that go beyond a mask wearing rule. Subsequent games will not be full, but will still be used indefinitely.