October 18, 2019 was the last time The Bronx’s Yankee Stadium was filled with tens of thousands of adoring fans of America’s favorite past time, or any fans for that matter.
Fans were barred from attending games at stadiums last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with The Bronx being the epicenter of the crisis, Yankee Stadium was no exception.
Businesses in the shadow of the stadium have been suffering perhaps more than the average mom and pop given the fact that they can generally rely on over 40,000 fans that attend a game at Yankee Stadium on a typical day.
With the coronavirus pandemic all that pedestrian traffic came to a grinding halt but today, some relief was in sight.
Today’s opening game against the Blue Jays will have fans in attendance for the first time in 18 months as almost 11,000 fans are allowed back in but under heavy COVID-19 safety protocols.
The stadium will only allow 20% of its 54,251 capacity, or 10,850 fans and attendees will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of the game or proof of vaccination.
Spectators will be spread apart in pods of 2 or 4 with sufficient distance between each group and everyone must wear masks at all times. Temperatures will also be checked before allowed entrance into the ball park as well.
Markedly absent also will be the lack of vendors in the stands but you’ll still be able to get food and beverages at concession stands but be prepared to pay in plastic as the stadium has gone cashless in the era of the coronavirus as a way to limit contact and spread.
Meanwhile outside the stadium, fans appeared happy to be back and drinking with friends at mainstays like Billy’s and the air was rather jubilant with crowds of laughing fans and live DJs playing music on sidewalks.
But it’s going to take more than just under 11,000 fans coming to the area to help uplift the local businesses and not even having games at full capacity will close the immense financial gap left after 18 months of lack of fans at Yankee Stadium.
While businesses have adapted to not having fans for 6 months of the year, this was something no one could have planned for.
Yankee Stadium will continue to operate as a vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care and the National Guard as it has been doing since February through at least the end of April. Since the stadium became a mass vaccination site, over 75,000 Bronxites have been vaccinated.
As more and more residents get vaccinated, we can only hope that one day things will return to normal and we’ll have a stadium full at capacity with revelers hopping around local establishments and spending their hard earned money to keep them alive.
For now, let’s enjoy what we can as responsibly and safely as possible.