Baseball is back, but like everything else during a pandemic, things will look different at the ball park.
Changes have been put in place to keep Yard Goats players and fans safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
This season, COVID-19 precautions will be a big part of the team’s playbook.
“Well, first of all, our fans, employees, our players' safety is first and foremost,” said Jeff Dooley, the voice of the Yard Goats baseball team, who showed us some of what fans can expect.
“We’ve got things set up in our picnic party decks in pods, social distancing in effect,” he said showing off some dining seating.
Masks will be required all season for fans ages two and up, with a time out, of course, when folks are actively eating and drinking.
You’ll see lots of hand sanitizer stations and socially distant signage, too.
“I think the nice thing for the fans is the things that they’re going to see when they come to the ballpark are now things they’re used to,” said team manager Mike Abramson.
For the first seven games, fans sit in pods with family or friends. The seats around you are blocked off for social distancing.
Come May 19 with the culmination of our state’s COVID restrictions, the park will open to full capacity.
Per MLB safety protocols, the team said they are required to keep a "buffer zone" between fans and the dugout this season.
But it’s more than just the game for the Goats, the team is hoping to help the community reach herd immunity.
“Baseball with no fans in the stands is no fun and the only way we’re going to get back to having fans in the stands is by everyone getting vaccinated,” said Hartford Yard Goats President Tim Restall.
He explains, while yes, they will have fans, they want to make sure that it stays that way all season.
“We’re partnering with Hartford Healthcare so that we can see shots going into right field and shots going into the arm,” he said. “So you’ll be able to grab your popcorn. Grab your COVID shot at the ballpark.”
After a year of no Goats, fans can’t wait to cheer on Hartford’s home team.
“I mean we both have both of our COVID vaccines so we’re pumped to get there and we both have to wear masks all day at work, so it’s really not a big deal for us. We really don’t mind,” said Sophie Sloan, of Hartford.
“Yeah I don’t care. Yeah, I’ll take baseball with masks over no baseball at all,” said her boyfriend, Justin Kliszewski.