The New York Mets and Yankees are teaming up to encourage more fans to go out and get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is lifting occupancy limits for vaccinated fans attending games at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field when both venues reopen to more people beginning on Wednesday, May 19.
For the unvaccinated, sections will be set aside where they will have to maintain six feet of social distance and are expected to fill up to approximately 33 percent capacity. In vaccinated sections, capacity will be 100 percent.
Broadway Theater tickets go on sale Thursday, May 6 for a 100-percent reopening on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
At all times, any fan at a game who is not actively eating or drinking will be required to wear a mask or facial covering. Children under the age of 16 accompanying families will also be permitted in the vaccinated sections because they are not yet eligible for the shot.
It is unclear what will happen to the Toronto Blue Jays, who will return to Sahlen Field in Buffalo this June as the team contends with COVID-19 restrictions in place both in New York and in Canada.
“Everybody will tell you that it’s a different experience with a crowd, and I think the crowd energizes, brings a rhythm and dynamic to the stadium we haven’t been seeing,” Cuomo said during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, May 5. “So much of sports talk about momentum and the crowd is a part of that momentum … They build it.
“So there will be two categories: vaccinated and unvaccinated. Vaccinated people will have normal capacity seating, can sit next to each other with their friends and families,” he continued. “For unvaccinated people, there will be six-foot distancing and it all applies with a mask.”
Yankees President Randy Levine and Mets President Sandy Alderson were guests at Cuomo’s conference, and said that both teams only just received word of this new plan and are still working out logistics on how they plan to set up their stadiums.
“Fans make the game, and anyone watching the game last night (Tuesday, May 4 against the Houston Astros) saw that point crystal clear,” Levine said. “Baseball goes every day and it really presents a sense of normalcy to everyone.”
Alderson noted that the Mets have been vaccinated approximately 2,000 people daily at Citi Field, and there are plans in place to install a drive-thru to add to the daily capacity.
“This is not just a New York City issue, it’s statewide and it’s national,” he said. “Fans are what make the memories, for players as well as themselves, and this is a new opportunity for us to get more families to the ballpark and have more kids at the ballpark and return to making those memories that are so important to our lives.”
Cuomo noted that in theory, either team could open up to 100 percent capacity if 100 percent of New Yorkers and fans at the stadium were fully vaccinated.
“We’re developing the plan right now, but there’s going to be separate sections for those who are vaccinated,” Levine added. “There will be ample notice so everyone knows where to go, where the seats are, and hopefully us and the Mets will have full house after full house.”
To further the vaccination program, anyone attending a game will be offered a COVID-19 vaccine, and anyone who receives a shot will get a free ticket to a future Met or Yankee game.
“So you can go get a vaccine … It’s convenient … You’re going there anyway, so go get a vaccine, and we’ll give you a free ticket to a game, and the next time you go to a came, you come, and you’re fully vaccinated and you can go sitting next to family and friends, which to me is a big part of the enjoyment of the game,” Cuomo said.
“I call that a New York home run.”
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