What to expect at T-Mobile Park for the start of the 2021 Mariners season
This Thursday, April 1, is opening night for the Seattle Mariners, and there will be fans in-person once again at T-Mobile Park.
The Mariners are the first major league sports team in the region to welcome fans back since Washington’s stay-at-home order was put in place this time last year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On opening day in 2020, there were thousands of fan cutouts in the stands ready to cheer on the home team, but at the first home game of 2021 — and for the next 10 home games — 9,000 fans will be allowed in T-Mobile Park.
For those fans attending the early games of the season in person, proof of vaccination is not required at this point, but there will be some changes in place to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Mariners say that current COVID-19 restrictions, rules, and capacity limits may be relaxed in response to improved health conditions later in the season. Trevor Gooby, senior vice president of ballpark operations, told Seattle’s Morning News that he expects restrictions to loosen as cases go down and vaccination rates go up.
Rules for entry
As you enter the ballpark, there will be new walkthrough metal detectors at all gates that do not require fans to remove mobile phones and car keys from their pockets. The units, according to a release from the Mariners, have 60 sensors that can be programmed to ignore personal effects, which results in quicker entry and less time spent in line.
“The main thing that you’ll see when you start coming to the ballpark is you’ll see social distancing outside the stadium. We want to make sure people are staying six feet apart as they’re entering the stadium,” Gooby said. “We also want to make sure that everyone is wearing masks — that’s something that’s mandatory.”
To keep those lines moving even faster, no bags are allowed. That includes backpacks and handbags. Clutch sized purses are allowed, but must be no larger than 4.5 by 6.5 inches. There will be exceptions for those with ADA or medical needs, and for single compartment diaper bags that do not exceed 16 by 16 by 8 inches, and there must be a child present to bring the bag inside.
No outside food will be allowed, and fans are only able to bring in one sealed plastic water bottle no larger than 32 ounces. For those that forget the bag rules, there will be the option for fans to return bags to their vehicles, or to use a paid locker and secure their bag during the game.
The tickets for entry will be all digital to further reduce contact points. Fans will scan their own mobile tickets at the ballpark gates. There will be no re-entry.
Masks are required for all guests age 2 and older, as well as staff, and must cover your nose and mouth. The only time when your mask can be removed is when you are eating or drinking, which must be in your assigned, ticketed seat.
The giveaways at each game, at least to start the season, will be handed out at the end of the game as fans exit the stadium, Gooby explained.
Inside the park
Once inside, transactions are cashless. All points of sale will accept debit and credit cards, gift cards, and mobile payments like Apple Pay or Google Pay. Fans who do not have any of these options can use kiosks in T-Mobile Park to convert cash into prepaid debit cards.
As far as concessions, the Mariners’ hospitality partner Centerplate has updated the menu offerings to focus on individually packaged items and grab and go options. This will hopefully speed up lines, and will again reduce potential points of contact between staff members and fans. Guests in the suites and Diamond Club will order food and drinks on their mobile devices using a new QR code system.
Tickets — available for advanced sale only — are grouped together in pods ranging from one to six persons who are part of the same household. Each pod is separated from others by at least six feet.
Frequent hand washing is recommended, and there will be more than 300 hand sanitizer stations in the ballpark. If you are sick with any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay home.
T-Mobile Park and the Mariners have also “revamped operations to meet or exceed industry standards in response to COVID-19,” which includes enhanced cleaning protocols that use the latest technology and disinfection products that are certified to target COVID-19.
Find more details about the safety measures at T-Mobile Park here.