The Texas Rangers have averaged 27,300 fans in their six home games — nearly 65% more than the MLB average through the first weeks of the season.
Better yet: There’s no indication that those larger crowds have led to increased COVID transmission.
Globe Life Field, the lone MLB stadium at full capacity so far in 2021, drew the largest crowd at a U.S. sporting event since the pandemic shutdown with its official Opening Day attendance of 38,238. Free tickets given to medical workers pushed that count toward 40,300.
“In general, we feel like things have gone about as we expected with fans and seems to be consistent across the league in discussions with other teams,” Rangers spokesman John Blake told Front Office Sports.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott lifted capacity limits for sporting events in March. The Houston Astros set a 50% cap for their home games, while the Rangers pushed out “distanced seating” sections that will cut down on available seats after the opener.
“The Rangers are adhering to – and going significantly beyond – the guidance from the state,” Blake said. “In addition to requiring face masks, we have a number of other strategies in place, including distancing at ingress/egress, on concourses, concessions stands and restrooms.
For entries, concessions stands and restrooms, distance markers are in place to remind guests to keep a safe distance from others.”
Arlington’s Tarrant County has fully vaccinated 25.8% of the population ages 16 and older as of Tuesday, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Nearby Dallas County has fully vaccinated 26.89% in the same category.
Neither county has seen significant spikes in COVID-19 cases since the start of the season.
The team has acknowledged in a statement that multiple workers tested positive for COVID-19 last fall at the NLCS and World Series. Officials were unaware of any community spread, and tickets were sold in four-seat “pods” for better social distancing, a person with knowledge of the matter told Front Office Sports.
Epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding told FOS there’s less risk in attending a baseball game than an indoor event with limited ventilation. He also wishes that the media would emphasize the real problem areas of ballpark activity.
“I wish whenever people show baseball games, they show how long the lines are for the concession and the bathrooms. That’s what people need to see.”
Feigl-Ding said all sporting events with fans pose the same risks: congregating in lines at concessions and the use of restrooms.
“Bathrooms at these stadiums can be an overcrowded mess,” said Feigl-Ding, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. “Bathrooms are rarely ventilated and the toilets don’t usually have lids. Toilets are the perfect aerosolization (device to spread COVID droplets).”