By Toby Srebnik for LVSportsBiz.com
My son and I are passionate baseball fans. Over the last 11 years, we have attended 148 games in stadiums all over Florida and a few in the northeast United States. With baseball as one of our favorite spring activities, we had planned to attend six spring training games in 2020.
We did attend three of those games on Feb. 22, Feb. 28, and March 4. However, just two days before we were going to attend a game in Dunedin for the first time, Major League Baseball postponed its season March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, over a month since that postponement, I am unsure when I will attend another baseball game or sporting event.
In fact, when I asked my son when he would feel safe to go to another baseball game, he simply said, “Not until there is a vaccine.” As big of a baseball fan as he is, that spoke volumes to me.
Father and son at Florida spring training.
In fact, I think he is absolutely right: why WOULD someone feel compelled to go back into a sports stadium or arena through the rest of this year, knowing there is no vaccine?
I do not even expect sports back this year with crowds at all (which is going to impact college football the most because, unlike pro sports, people travel hundreds of miles to go to a game).
Why would any college town endorse more than 100,000 fans potentially infecting their towns this fall and then traveling back home with stuff from the college towns? It just does not seem possible to me.
I am also assuming even if those things re-open by year’s end, they are not going to suddenly have sold-out crowds again.
While I know I am naïve to think everyone will wait for a vaccine, I would expect 50 percent of people to go back to the things they used to do and 50 percent to stay away. I also think crowds at arenas and stadiums will take at least two-three years to get close to their pre-pandemic numbers, and for that to happen, all of these venues will have to create new ways to stand in line, engage in better social distancing, and have less buffets.
In short, the new normal at baseball games is going to be about as challenging as it gets. From getting autographs to simply going after foul balls to standing in line for snacks, everything is likely going to have a new way of doing things. Hopefully, people will learn patience and realize the sooner we do all of the social distancing things now on a regular basis, the sooner the new normal can really begin.
In the meantime, I look forward to attending that next baseball game in hopefully 2021 or no later than 2022 once a vaccine has been created. Until then, I see a lot of MLB.tv and MiLB.tv in my future.