Petco Park

CA Clears Reopening Path for Stadiums, Theme Parks; Padres Hopeful for Fans on Opening Day

If San Diego County can qualify for the red tier by the end of the month, San Diegans could find themselves taking in a ballgame at Petco Park, or enjoying theme parks and outdoor concerts as early as April 1

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The San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks are going to play the first regular season baseball game of 2021 at Petco Park on April 1. You just might be able to be there to see it.

In a Friday update from Gov. Newsom's office, officials said theme parks and stadiums might be able to open with limited capacity as early as the first of April.

In a statement, the Padres said they expect to have fans in seats on Opening Day.

"We are excited to hear today’s announcement, which creates a path to welcome our loyal and passionate fans back home to Petco Park for the 2021 season," Padres CEO Erik Greupner said, in part, in a statement. "We have been diligently preparing to ensure that Petco Park is one of the safest places to be in San Diego this season.  We expect that Padres fans will be able to support our team in-person beginning on Opening Day and our players are eager to have them back at Petco Park."

The Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland Athletics have home games on Opening Day.

There are, of course, caveats -- the largest being San Diego County would have to advance from purple tier to red tier by the end of March. If that happens the Padres would be allowed to welcome 20% capacity to Petco Park, which is right around 9,000 fans.

Moving to red tier requires the county's case rate, a metric to determine how widespread the coronavirus is in a community, to fall below 7 per 100,000 people and stay there for two consecutive weeks, which could happen if the current downtrend continues. Case rates are measured every Tuesday. This Tuesday, San Diego County's was 10.8, down from 15 the week before.

They'll be subject to strict conditions, including capacity limits based on a county's rate of COVID-19 spread and required mask-wearing, reports NBC 7's Allison Ash

Right of first refusal for seats will go to Padres season ticket members. So, while we're not yet back to the point where fans can walk up and grab tickets to a game, we are closer than we have been in a year to watching a Major League Baseball game in person.

The Padres haven't released any details about how they might manage fans once they're inside the ballpark.

The California Department of Public Health said capacity limits, masks and social distancing will be mandatory at ballparks, stadiums and theme parks.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s top public health official, said the state is acting now because the rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are declining while the number of people receiving the vaccine is increasing.

NBC 7's Dave Summers explains why an email from the team to season ticket holders is cause for excitement.

“Today’s announcement is focused on building in some of the compelling science about how the virus behaves, and how activities, when done a certain way, can reduce risk,” Ghaly said.

As for theme parks like SeaWorld and Legoland, they can open in the red tier at 15% capacity and boost attendance limits as virus rates decrease. Indoor rides at outdoor parks will be allowed because they are typically short and can allow for proper spacing. Only people who live in California can buy tickets.

Friday’s announcement only pertains to outdoor activities. Attendance for indoor events, including NBA games and concerts, are still prohibited. Coming up with rules for indoor events is “much more difficult,” said Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to the governor and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

San Diego Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher called Friday's news a strong step forward.

“This is another strong step forward in our COVID recovery. We have worked hard to get to this point and this new State guidance will deliver a safe return to having fans at Padres games, outdoor concerts and amusement parks," Fletcher said.

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