Posted on: April 10, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

If you’re an avid sports fan anxiously awaiting the opportunity to return to your favorite team’s stadium, get in line. Literally. 

Tickets to see my beloved Cubbies are limited and expensive. Following Chicago’s COVID rules, the Cubs are allowing jut 25 percent of Wrigley Field to be occupied by fans, with distancing and mask regulations in place. It’ll be some time before the masses flood the Friendly Confines again. 

A few states south, deep in the heart of Texas, you’ll find Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers made headlines Monday afternoon after allowing a full-capacity 38,000 fans into the stadium for the team’s home opener against the Blue Jays. Seats were packed foul pole to foul pole, as thousands of the faithful cheered without a mask or distancing mandate.

Although the Rangers are abiding by the local law, it’s on their front office to recognize the risks to not only their fans, but to the organization itself if an outbreak were to occur. They need to take it on themselves to limit their ticket sales.

The Texas Rangers play to a full-capacity stadium on opening day. (Photo: NBC Sports)

I understand that teams lost out on millions of dollars due to COVID restrictions, but if other teams are surviving economically with smaller capacity in smaller markets, the organization needs to take a long, hard look at possible future repercussions. 

Restrictions vary across the league, as certain state and city governments are more lenient on protocols than others, but while I’m in favor of a return to sporting events, we’re still in the thick of a pandemic. And filling a stadium with nearly 40,000 unmasked spectators is simply irresponsible.

COVID isn’t “going away” anytime soon. The CDC reports thousands of new cases daily, with the death toll in the United States exceeding half a million. Despite vaccinations being administered, a majority of Americans remain susceptible to the virus. Whether you’ve played it safe or refuse to wear a mask, the pandemic has been detrimental to all of our lives. Human beings crave the normal way of life we once lived, but the numbers show Texas isn’t ready for that just yet. 

The Lone Star state ranks second in the United States in terms of COVID-19, tallying 2.82 million cases and close to 50,000 deaths. Ironically, the Rangers organization is the only one allowing more than 50 percent of its seats to be filled during home games, with a majority of teams allowing less than 30 percent.

A stadium full of hungry spenders is eye candy to any general manager, but the risks weigh heavier than the rewards.

Put yourself in these shoes: You’re a Texas Rangers fan who has made the choice to play it safe all throughout the pandemic, and you desperately crave the bright lights of a major league stadium. You’d like to go, and have every intention of staying safe, but you are forced to stay home because of the thousands of other individuals that present a risk. How is that fair?

Packing that many people into one place makes any sort of distancing measures near impossible. Many stadiums are ensuring a certain number of seats are left empty to abide by social distancing recommendations. Turn a Cubs game on and you’ll see vacant rows between individual parties. Meanwhile, Rangers fans are packed shoulder to shoulder, which is hard to justify in a state with such a high fatality rate. 

So, what’s the solution? A stadium full of hungry spenders is eye candy to any general manager, but the risks weigh heavier than the rewards. Money is power, but so is data. With that many people in close quarters, an outbreak is imminent. What if the Rangers are forced to cease all ticket sales and lose out on even more revenue?  

I’m not here calling for a mask requirement, as Texas has lifted its mandate. But simply reducing the number of tickets would allow groups of fans to sit socially distanced from each other. That way, thousands of fans could still enjoy the game.

But let’s respect and account for the people who are at risk and want to ensure their safety. Remember, it isn’t just the 40,000 or so in attendance at risk. It’s the families, friends, and loved ones of fans in attendance as well. This pandemic is bigger than any individual.