By Tim Tucker, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution #atlanta-ga (CNT) City News And Talk
The Braves will see something they haven’t seen all season when the National League Championship Series begins Monday: fans in the stands.
After the 60-game regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs were played sans fans because of the coronavirus pandemic, Major League Baseball plans to allow about 11,500 socially distanced fans to be in attendance at each of the NLCS games between the Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That represents about 28% of the full seating capacity of 40,400 at Globe Life Field, the Texas Rangers’ new retractable-roof stadium in Arlington, Texas, where the NLCS will be played within MLB’s postseason “bubble.”
After getting used to playing before cardboard cutouts in otherwise empty stadiums, it’ll be “another transition,” albeit a welcome one, to have some fans at the games again, Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said.
“It’s going to be fun,” Freeman said. “This what it’s all about: We play this game for the fans. And for a quarter of the stadium to be able to come in to see baseball again, it’s going to be awesome.
“Hopefully everything continues on the right track with COVID … and hopefully we can put on a good show for those 11,000 people who get to come.”
Major League Baseball put tickets for the NLCS on sale Tuesday, priced from $40 to $250 per seat and available only in groups of four contiguous seats, called pods.
As of Friday, tickets remained available at MLB.com, TexasRangers.com and MLB-authorized secondary-market platforms such as StubHub.
The NLCS crowd figures to be a blend of Rangers season-ticket holders along with Braves and Dodgers fans who live in or near the Dallas-Fort Worth area or choose to travel there.
“It’ll be cool to hear actual people instead of a fake crowd noise going on,” Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud said. “It’ll be cool to hear actual words.”
He hopes for a pro-Braves crowd.
“I think more Braves fans will go to those games. I’m sure they’ll fly out and come see us,” d’Arnaud said. “I’m excited to get the fans back because they bring a ton of energy and can bring a team up when things are going down.”
All of the four-seat pods that will be occupied at Globe Life Field during the NLCS are located at least six feet away from any other pod. Unsold seats will be tied back to prevent use. No fans will be allowed within 20 feet of the field, dugouts or bullpen.
Sales are limited to one pod per game per customer, and the four tickets within a pod cannot be broken apart for resale separately.
If all available tickets are sold and used, about 10,500 fans will be spread around the seating bowls, with approximately 950 others in suites.
Fans will be required to wear masks or other face coverings in the stadium except when eating or drinking at their ticketed seats, according to MLB.
Decisions on whether the Globe Life Field roof will be open or closed will be made on a game-to-game basis by MLB officials based on weather and other factors, according to the Rangers.
The same number of fans will be allowed in attendance for the World Series, also to be played at the Rangers’ stadium, from Oct. 20-28. World Series tickets went on sale this week, too, priced from $75 to $450 each, with the same restrictions as the NLCS tickets.
The American League Championship Series, which will be played at Petco Park in San Diego beginning Sunday, won’t have fans in the stands because MLB couldn’t get California governmental approval to sell tickets there amid the pandemic.
The Braves-Dodgers series will mark the first MLB games played with fans in attendance since spring training was halted March 12, other than a limited number of players’ family members at the first two rounds of the playoffs. The best-of-seven NLCS will be played on seven consecutive days next week if the series goes the distance.
For Braves fans who want to view the games in a stadium setting without traveling to Texas, the Braves will hold watch parties at Truist Park, as they did during this week’s Division Series.
Watch-party ticket prices, available at Braves.com/watchparty, are $10 in the Delta Sky360 seating area on Truist Park’s lower level, $20 in the Infiniti Club area, $200 for a four-person pod on the field and $2,000 for a 12-person suite (including a $750 food-and-beverage credit for catering). Pandemic-related safety protocols at the watch parties will include social distancing, temperature checks and mandatory face masks when not eating or drinking, according to the Braves.