Red Sox News: Gov. Baker hesitant to allow fans at Fenway Park this season
It’s unclear if Red Sox fans can attend games at Fenway this season.
A vital step toward beginning the 2020 season was taken this week when Gov. Charlie Baker announced that professional sports can return to Massachusetts as part of Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan. This opens the door for the Boston Red Sox to play their home games at Fenway Park this season but that doesn’t mean that fans will be able to attend.
During a press conference at Fenway on Thursday, Baker was hesitant to commit to fans attending games due to the unpredictability of the ever-changing coronavirus pandemic, per MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.
"“I hesitate to take a position one way or another,” Baker said. “Today, the answer to that question based on what we’re hearing from the public health folks and others, is no. But if you asked me what the answer to that question is three months from now, I think it would depend a lot on the facts on the ground, the experiences, the data collection and everything else. It might mean the same answer and it might not. I hesitate to give an answer to a question that gets that far down the road because there has been so much that we’ve learned and frankly, so many things that have changed.”"
Red Sox president Sam Kennedy expressed optimism last week that fans would be able to attend games at some point this season but his comments came across as wishful thinking.
Baker has been among the country’s most cautious governors when it comes to reopening the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic. His gradual plan has helped contain the spread of the virus, leading to a drop in recorded cases, hospitalized patients and deaths. Last Tuesday, Massachusetts reported zero coronavirus-related deaths for the first time since March.
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Meanwhile, states that opened up too early without restrictions have met disastrous results. Florida continues to set new daily records for reported cases as clueless residents throw caution to the wind by gathering in public spaces and crowded beaches. The number of reported cases in Texas rose so rapidly that the state essentially was set back to square one with social distancing and face coverings finally being enforced. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for many Texans.
Baker deserves credit for bringing Massachusetts from a state with one of the highest transmission rates in the country at its peak to one of the lowest. While his policies are helping to save lives, it’s not helping the chances of Red Sox fans enjoying a summer day at Fenway.
Honestly, that’s probably a good thing. As much as we’d all love to get back to normal, we can’t afford to take steps backwards. Even if Fenway required face coverings to enter and limited capacity to ensure fans were spread out throughout the park, there would still be too many people gathered in the concourse, waiting in line to enter, at concession stands and in restrooms. Social distancing would be virtually impossible even if tickets were limited to 25 percent capacity.
Baker will continue to heed the advice of public health officials. It’s unrealistic to expect any fans in attendance for Boston’s home opener but the governor stopped short of ruling it out for the entire season. There’s still so much we don’t know about this virus and Baker hinted that things could change in a few months. That potentially could alter the approach to allowing fans by the time we reach the postseason – if the Red Sox are still playing at that point.