Will there be any fans allowed at Citizens Bank Park when the Philadelphia Phillies host the Atlanta Braves on April 1 to open the 2021 season? We still don’t know the answer to that question, though it appears that processes are in place behind the scenes to reach some sort of a conclusion.
John Clark of NBC 10 reported Monday evening that “the Phillies, Sixers and Flyers have asked the city of Philadelphia to have limited fans at their games.”
Fans were not present at Citizens Bank Park during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Clark says that he’s been told that “the Phillies are hopeful they will be able to have limited fans at games at some point this season.” For that to happen, the city of Philadelphia will have to ease some COVID-19 restrictions, as New Jersey did Monday with the announcement that beginning on March 1, venues that are outdoors and seat over 5,000 people are allowed to have 15% capacity.
The Sixers and Flyers have made the same pitch to the city of Philadelphia, according to Clark and Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Considering both play indoors at the Wells Fargo Center, they seemingly face a more uphill battle to getting approval than the Phillies. New Jersey is allowing indoor teams to have some fans, but only at 10% of capacity.
The Phillies, of course, haven’t had fans at a home game since the final weekend of the 2019 season. That means Joe Girardi has never managed a home regular season game in front of Phillies fans, and neither Didi Gregorius or Zack Wheeler has played in front of fans as a Phillie yet. This past weekend, Girardi said he’s been given no indication one way or another about whether fans will be at the park to open the season, but he can’t wait for them to return.
“Well I did a little bit in spring training last year – the first part of it,” Girardi said with a laugh when talking about managing in front of Phillies fans. “But it is strange. I was commenting today how there’s no fans at our practices, and usually there’s fans all over the place so that’s kind of strange. So, I really look forward to things getting back to normal.”
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