There will be 14 Cubs home Spring Training games at Sloan Park this year, beginning Tuesday, March 2 vs. the Royals. They’ll begin 2021 play on the road the previous afternoon, Monday, March 1 vs. the Padres at Peoria. The entire 2021 revised spring schedule is here.
The Cubs have received permission from the city of Mesa, Maricopa County and the state of Arizona to sell up to 25 percent of capacity at Sloan Park. Based on the park’s official listed capacity of 15,000 (though there have been dates with higher announced crowds — the biggest-ever is 16,100 vs. the Red Sox on March 25, 2019), that would be approximately 3,750 tickets. Per this East Valley Tribune article, Sloan Park general manager Justin Piper says about 3,500 tickets will be sold.
The smallest crowd in the seven-season history of Sloan Park is 8,313, vs. the Athletics on February 28, 2018. I can tell you that the place felt really empty that afternoon, just a bit more than half full. Cut that again in half and it would seem to me that the Cubs can have appropriate social distancing, both in the seating area and on the lawn.
There are no season tickets at Sloan Park this year. Those of us who have season tickets at Sloan chose either a credit or refund a couple of weeks ago. For individual games, Sloan Park season-ticket holders have a ticket presale Wednesday. Then, Wrigley Field season-ticket holders will have a presale Thursday, and any remaining tickets will be available for general public sale on Friday at noon MT/1 p.m. CT.
The Cubs have created a COVID-19 page at sloanpark.com. Here are some of the highlights.
- There will be no tailgating this year. All parking will be paid for on the day of the game, by card only.
- Gates will open 90 minutes before scheduled game time.
- The Cubs say that you won’t need to remove phones, keys, etc. from pockets upon entry.
- Only small bags 9x5 inches or smaller will be permitted.
- Factory sealed bottled water and “a personal amount of food” is permitted.
- The park will have distance markers and signage to promote social distancing, as well as Sloan Park staff assisting with this, as well as helping avoid congestion on entry and exit.
- All tickets will be mobile-only and sold only in “pods” of two, four or six in the seating area and two or four on the lawn.
- The lawn will have circles painted to indicate the pods, all will be the same size, and only people with lawn tickets will be allowed on the lawn.
- If you buy a pod of tickets and transfer or sell them, all the tickets in the pod must be sold to one party, and all transfers must be completed in advance of the game.
- Sloan Park will be cashless for all purchases, including food, souvenirs and 50/50 tickets. There will be no vendors and food can be ordered through the MLB Ballpark app. If you don’t have a card, “reverse ATMs” will be available where cash can be converted to a card.
- Here’s what the Cubs say about masks:
In addition to Sloan Park staff, all guests two years or older will be required to wear a face covering at all times, unless you’re actively eating or drinking while seated. Face coverings should fully cover your mouth and nose and fit snugly against the sides of your face so there are no gaps. Gaiters and masks with exhalation valves are prohibited. If your mask is not compliant, Sloan Park staff will provide you with a disposable, surgical mask.
Given all these health and safety protocols, at this time I’ve decided I’m going to go to these games. I think a crowd that small and with the measures in place at Sloan Park, it will be relatively safe. For those of you who enjoy watching workouts on the back fields in Mesa on the west end of the complex (Fields 3-6, for those of you familiar with the complex), those will be closed to the public this spring. It’s unfortunate but understandable given the pandemic. Also, to help with social distancing, autographs will be prohibited this year.
I would expect similar measures to be put into effect at Wrigley Field at whatever time fans are permitted there, which I would not expect to be on Opening Day April 1.
Here’s hoping that these health and safety protocols, along with those for players, coaches and staff, help keep everyone healthy as we slowly move our way out of the pandemic.