NEW YORK -- Fans at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium will be able to receive vaccines at those ballparks, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday in conjunction with the Mets and Yankees.
Beginning May 19, both ballparks will have sections where fans can receive the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine during games. Fans who take advantage of the program will receive one ticket voucher for a future game.
“If we can encourage more people to get vaccinated by giving away Yankees tickets, we are all in,” the Yankees said in a statement.
The announcement came as part of a broader plan to increase capacity at both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. Also beginning on May 19, the ballparks will have separate sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated fans. There will be no social distancing or capacity requirements in the vaccinated sections.
The unvaccinated sections will be restricted to 33 percent capacity and require pods of fans to remain at least six feet from one another. Mask requirements and other restrictions, such as cashless concessions stands, will remain in effect regardless of vaccination status.
Proof of vaccine can be provided with an official paper vaccination record card, a digital app or New York State’s Excelsior Pass. However, fans will no longer need to produce a negative COVID-19 test to enter the stadiums. Cuomo called that requirement too “burdensome” to continue.
“Generally speaking, we think a gradual return is appropriate,” said Mets president Sandy Alderson, who joined Cuomo and Yankees president Randy Levine in making the announcement. “We’re working toward full capacity, of course, but we’re happy with where we are and where we’re going.”
Levine said that the majority of fans coming to games have already been vaccinated, according to polls conducted by the team, and that the vast majority of Yankees players and Tier 1 individuals have as well. The Yankees have been able to reach Major League Baseball’s 85 percent threshold to reduce clubhouse restrictions, but as of Wednesday, the Mets were at 77 percent, according to Alderson.
“It's exciting. It really is,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We've seen it here early in the year with a number of fans being allowed back in, just how that changes the atmosphere and the feeling of everything. It brings a smile to my face, knowing that we continue to move that needle.”
Clubs were informed just before Opening Day that MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to relax certain health and safety protocols contained in the 2021 Operations Manual for fully vaccinated Tier 1 Individuals and for clubs where 85 percent of their Tier 1 Individuals are fully vaccinated. As part of that memo, players and staff were again strongly encouraged to receive one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines when eligible.
Both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium have served as New York State vaccination sites over the past two months.
New York State had initially planned to increase capacity at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and other outdoor venues from 20 percent to 33 percent, but social distancing guidelines prevented that increase from making much of a difference in terms of sheer capacity. Separating fans into vaccinated and unvaccinated sections has the potential to allow significantly more fans into the ballparks.
“It speaks volumes for where we are as a state and a city,” Alderson said. “This reopening of baseball is just another indication of how far we’ve come.”