Fans will be back in the stands for the Milwaukee Brewers season opener. The Milwaukee Health Department has approved a plan to allow up to 25 percent capacity at American Family Field.
The Brewers front office admits this has been a long time coming after 18 months without having fans attend games. That all changes April 1, but tailgaters will not be welcome.
The Brew Crew will open their season with one thing players have been missing the most: energy from the stands. 11,000-12,000 fans will be spread throughout the stadium seats on Opening Day.
“It’s absolutely better than nothing,” said Brewers fan John Fredrickson. “Every increment that we can start to getting back to normal the better.”
Brewers’ President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said the team submitted a nearly 400-page plan to the city’s health department asking for 35 percent capacity. Health leaders and the team’s front office found a compromise at 25 percent.
“This is going to be largest approved gathering in Wisconsin in essentially a year,” Schlesinger said.
The Brewers' capacity limits stack up similarly with their division competitors that have plans approved. The St. Louis Cardinals will start the season with 32 percent capacity. The Cincinnati Reds have received approval for 30 percent. The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates plans have yet to be determined, but both cities plan to allow a limited number of fans.
Schlesinger said the Brewers’ goal is to gradually increase capacity, but that involves two major factors, community spread of coronavirus and how fans behave.
“If we follow the rules and put us in a good situation I think that’s another opportunity for us to go to the health department and say our fans can follow the rules,” he said.
Schlesinger said tailgating outside the stadium will be banned given the concern for large crowds gathering in groups. Major Goolsby’s manager Marty Petricca said that could benefit bars hoping to cash-in on game days.
“People will have to either tailgate at home or go out to an establishment,” Petricca said.
Back at American Family Field, attendees will be required to wear masks whenever they aren’t eating or drinking. ‘Seating pods’ will ensure patrons who didn’t come together remain at least 6 feet apart.
Schlesinger said the team plans to start the season with the roof closed considering how cold April nights can be in Wisconsin. He believes the 330’ roof lends to a safe environment.
Fans may have trouble getting tickets for games at the start of the season. Schlesinger said the team plans to give season ticket holders first priority before moving onto single-game ticket sales.