Chase Field

Depending on the status of the coronavirus pandemic next spring, social distancing could become the rule at ballparks like Chase Field. If that happens, the Diamondbacks may be glad their home ballpark is as big as it is.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Dodgers, World Series Championships for 2020! At least someone had a good year. The 2020 season was like none other, and I hope we never see another one like it again.

Unfortunately, that’s not guaranteed. That nasty little bug, the coronavirus, is still around and still making people sick. We don’t know what things will be like this spring. I really hope we can have something resembling a normal season, but, at this point, no one can say for sure.

Despite what some agents and the players’ union may claim, I have no doubt the franchise owners took a real hit in 2020. With no fans at the ballparks, they had to rely on radio, TV and cable broadcast revenues. While substantial, those can’t begin to match the revenue needs for the franchises.

The fact is baseball is dependent on bodies in the stands. They need the revenue from ticket sales, parking and concessions, including hot dogs, soda pop and club-related merchandise.

The question then becomes how do you get people in the stands in a pandemic where social distancing is the rule. I believe it can be done. It’s won’t be easy, and we’d need the cooperation of the fans. However, they can get at least some bodies in the ballparks to spend money there.

I understand the Arizona Diamondbacks have been considering a new ballpark because Chase Field is considered “too big” for baseball. It seats 49,800, and most newer ballparks seat 35,000 to 45,000. The irony is, if the D-backs and Major League Baseball adopt my plan, the D-Backs will be glad their ballpark is so big.

I propose what I call the “Rule of Six.” That means six seats to each fan. Every other row of seats would be left empty. In the rows that are occupied, fans could sit in the middle seat of every three seats. What this means is every fan will have two seats on either side of him or her that are empty. There will be a row of seats in front of them that’s empty, and a row of seats behind them that’s empty.

This is what social distancing at a ballpark could look like. With its capacity, the D-Backs would be able to get over 8,000 fans into Chase Field. Many other clubs would be lucky if they could get 5,500 to 7,000 fans inside. The Dodgers would be able to get 9,000 into Dodger Stadium.

Fans would be required to wear face masks when they come into the ballpark, and have their temperature taken. They could take their masks off at their seats (though keeping them on would be recommended). However, if they leave their seats to go to the concession stand, the team store, or the restroom, they would need to wear their masks. At the concession stands and on the concourse, there would be social distancing marks on the floors, just like there are at many businesses today.

Granted, a crowd of 8,000 isn’t very big by MLB standards, but at least it would provide some ticket, parking and concessions revenue for the ballclubs.

The more we learn about the coronavirus, the better we are able to deal with it. We now have a much better idea of how to keep it from spreading than we did last spring. By following social distancing guidelines, we can have fans at the ballparks again.

I suspect the players would like this. They have to be tired of looking at those cardboard cut-outs some teams have been using.

Here’s hoping the 2021 season is a lot better than 2020.

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