Reds news: Fans could return to Great American Ball Park in 2021

CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 30: Fans gather outside the ball park prior to the Opening Day game between the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MARCH 30: Fans gather outside the ball park prior to the Opening Day game between the Cincinnati Reds (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

MLB may allow Reds fans back to Great American Ball Park.

So far, so good. At this time last year, Reds Country was excited to get the 2020 season underway. After signing big-name free agents Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and Shogo Akiyama, Cincinnati Reds fans couldn’t wait to pack into Great American Ball Park on Opening Day. Then, well, we all know what happened, right?

The coronavirus pandemic shutdown spring training and baseball fans had to endure a constant back-and-forth between owners and players about safety protocols, salary adjustments, schedules, COVID-19 testing, and a myriad of other things. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, we won’t have to worry about a similar fate this coming season.

While we shouldn’t expect a full house for Cincinnati’s first game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 1st, there’s a chance that several thousand fans could be in attendance when the Reds kickoff the 2021 season.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, MLB has released their health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, and it allows for fans to be in attendance, something we didn’t see until the National League Championship Series last fall at Globe Life Park. Approximately 11,500 fans were permitted to attend the NLCS and the World Series.

Globe Life Field seats 40,300 and was filled to about 30% capacity during the postseason. If the same standards apply for the upcoming season, we could see upwards of 12,000 fans in attendance at Great American Ball Park.

During the Cincinnati Bengals 2020 season, Who Day Nation was able to have up to 12,000 fans in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium after a variance was approved by the state of Ohio. According to FOX 19, Bengals fans were permitted to be seated in “pods” of predominantly two to four people with up to six individuals from the same group allowed to be seated together.

Reds fans should expect the same thing at Great American Ball Park as the “pods” system was used by MLB during the postseason in 2020 with groups sitting at least six feet apart from one another. According to Nightengale, facial coverings will be required, but the 20 foot buffer zone between fans and players will be reduced to just six feet.

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As we saw last season, nothing is certain and all of this could change in the coming weeks and months, but for now, this is great news. One of the biggest concern for teams, particularly the Cincinnati Reds, was lack of gate revenue. Allowing even 25-30% of the fans back into the ballparks should help alleviate some of that concern.