There was a nod to the pandemic, where fans had to wear masks or face masks and practice social distancing on concession stands and on the collapses when Rangers announced plans to open their stadium after the Texas Gov. last month.
On Monday, official attendance was listed as 38,232 in the stadium with 40,518 capacity. Free tickets for health workers and others were not counted, so the game was considered a sale. In February, the Daytona 500 took place before a crowd of just over 30,000 (capacity: 1
Fans may have intruded on the stadium in Arlington, but there was some initial fear.
Gerald Esparza, a 63-year-old fan from Fort Worth, attended with his 27-year-old son after their experience at last week’s two exhibitions, which attracted a total of 23,000 fans. Both men have been vaccinated. “We thought they had enough [safety precautions] in place that we felt comfortable, ”Esparza’s son told Star-Telegram, asking that it not use his name. Season card holders were happy to wear masks and MLB is asking all fans over the age of 2 to wear masks.
“We still wear our masks just to be respectful,” Esparza said. “As long as companies can stay open and Rangers are open, I have no problem wearing the masks if that’s what keeps everything open.”
Before the game, there were frequent reminders of the address system for fans to follow health protocols and set aside political sentiments.
“You can have your opinion on it, but at the same time our country is moving forward. It symbolizes a bit of hope, ”said Rangers Manager Chris Woodward (via Star-Telegram). “We have not had a large audience for a long time in any sport. To be the first, as long as it is done right and responsibly, we must feel good. ”
Former President George W. Bush, a former Rangers owner, and Laura Bush sat in a field-level suite with Craig Biggio, the Houston Astros’ Hall of Famer, whose son plays for the Blue Jays. Ferguson Jenkins, another Hall of Famer who ran for Rangers for six seasons, was also present.
“It was definitely cool, the extra bit of adrenaline warmed up and came into play,” Blue Jays starting pitcher Steven Matz told reporters (via the Associated Press) after Toronto’s 6-2 win. “It was fun. It felt really good to have fans in the stands.”
Rangers made the decision to allow the large crowd because so few had been able to attend games at the stadium, which opened last year. Going forward, the team reduces the capacity to encourage social distance. Although neither the Daytona 500 nor the Super Bowl appear to have become super-spreading events, Monday’s packed stadium came as coronavirus infections fall in Texas but rise across the United States.
Monday for at least a day “felt like a real game,” Woodward said. “It felt like going back to the old days when we had full capacity.”