Astros plans to return to Minute Maid Park in a limited capacity when the 2021 regular season begins.
An email sent to season ticket holders Tuesday morning praised the signing of free agent Michael Brantley and told fans “don’t miss your chance to see him.” The club is advertising a flexible package that allows fans to purchase 20 or 40 ticket vouchers to use at any home game.
Astros spokeswoman Anita Sehgal said the club was still finalizing much of its protocol and plans for the 2021 season, but it was estimated that as many as 12,000 people could be accommodated for the start of the season. The Astros home opener is scheduled for April 8 against Oakland Athletics. The team allowed fans to take part in the Division II annual campus tournament at Minute Maid Park this weekend, although it did not reveal the exact number.
“We’re trying to figure out what that figure is (in the regular season),” said Sehgal, the team’s senior vice president for marketing and communications. “I’m not sure that’s going to be a net percentage, but it will probably be closer to 25 percent or around 10 to 12,000 people. This will vary depending on how we do the bowl versus the premium suite and area. But that will be about 25 percent. “
The Rockets currently hold about 25 percent of the capacity for home games at the Toyota Center. Sehgal said the Astros were observing their protocol as part of the Houston venue task force – a group created by the Harris County Sports Authority.
“Houston has done a great job keeping all of these places together and sharing best practices,” Sehgal said. “We are actively participating in that and we have shared our learning and they have shared it. We’ve done the same with all the clubs in the league because everyone is thinking about it. First and foremost, we will take guidance from health and league officials and secondly we will work directly with districts and cities to sign our protocols. “
Sehgal said the club would receive guidance from Major League Baseball before compiling a list of protocols for attendance. The plan must be approved by league and city health officials.
Over the past two weeks, Minute Maid Park has been used as a mega site for the COVID-19 vaccine, although it will “pull back” this week due to shortages of supply. Sehgal said Astros had “informed the city and health authorities that we are happy to help them and are happy to offer our facilities if it works for them.”
When baseball started again, the worry of being indoors eased somewhat. Outdoor air is pumped into Minute Maid Park with a closed roof, allowing the team to maintain flexibility, whether playing with the roof open or closed with fans in attendance. During normal season, most of the Astros’ home matches with the open roof occur in April or May.
Once tickets are available, Sehgal said season ticket holders will maintain purchasing priority before single match tickets become available to the general public. It is not yet known how many stadium facilities – concession stands or team shops – will be opened based on capacity.
“I anticipate we will adapt to the number of fans we have, but it will stick with us to ensure that both employees and fans feel safe coming onto the pitch,” Sehgal said.
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