Springfield Cardinals to welcome back fans for first time since 2019 next week
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Peanuts, cracker jacks and Cardinals baseball are all about to return to Springfield in just a week.
Opening Day for the Springfield Cardinals is set for May 4, a week from Tuesday. It will be the first time for fans to catch AA baseball at Hammons Field since 2019.
“It’s going to be beyond exciting,” Springfield Cardinals General Manager Dan Reiter said on Tuesday. “I think people are going to be so excited to get those ballpark smells again.”
The COVID-19 pandemic took baseball away from Springfield Cardinals’ fans for a little while, but now smiles, cheers and maybe even a few tears will return to Hammons Field as the team takes to the plate again.
”I’ve been with the Springfield Cardinals since day one,” Reiter said. “And I can remember that first season when that first game and same usual people crying and honestly I think there are going to be some people who are the same way. Myself included.”
Gates will eagerly open back up to welcome fans after a year without them, but there will be a few slight changes.
”I can sum it up by saying strict protocols are better than an empty stadium,” Reiter said.
Masking and a little bit of distancing will still be in effect, all to keep the game at play.
“We don’t want to be the rule police and we don’t want to be the mask police, but we’re prepared to,” Reiter said. ”We remember how awful it was to have an empty stadium last year. And really one of the worst things that could happen is that after opening up there is an outbreak with the players or an outbreak with the staff that we have to shut it back down.”
COVID protocols will not be the only changes fans can expect. Other changes start right at the ticket booth.
”We’re going to digital tickets for the first time, which makes it so easy to be able to send tickets to someone else if you can’t make it,” Reiter said. “And I think fans, they’re not going to have to stress about getting here as early or about how to get the tickets, waiting for them in the mail.”
Concessions will also be cashless, hoping to minimize any wait times.
“All the research shows that customer satisfaction increases and also wait time decreases,” Reiter said. “We think people moving through the concession lines faster, they’re going to be very excited about the switch. We didn’t take those decisions lightly, because we would never want to inconvenience anyone.”
Fans will have to use debit or credit cards when inside. If you are looking for work, they are also still looking for more concession workers.
The Springfield Cardinals say masking in the stadium will continue until they get the go ahead from the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, the St. Louis Cardinals and Major League Baseball.
Some fans have already stepped into Hammons Field this spring, watching the Missouris State Bears.
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