Though certain aspects may look and feel a bit different this year, the Phillies are confident that fans will still be treated to the same game experience as in years past.
With the Phils set to welcome fans back to Citizens Bank Park in a limited capacity starting on Opening Day against the Braves, the club unveiled a number of safety measures for the 2021 season on Thursday, including with a mandatory mask policy. All fans 2 years or older will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the ballpark, except when actively eating or drinking at their seats.
"In a little over a week, we're going to welcome fans back here for the first time in about 19 months. We're super excited," said executive vice president David Buck. "We have two messages for you: First is, mask up. We have to mask up. ... The second thing is, even though this is really different, it's going to be great. It's still baseball, it's still going to be a ton of fun, and it's going to get better and better as the summer goes along."
The Phillies were approved to have up to 8,800 fans for the first 19 home games. In addition to the mask policy, those attending games will notice social-distancing markers placed throughout the ballpark, as well as plexiglass around all of the counters and registers on the concourse. All products will be served in closed containers, and purchases will be cashless (credit/debit cards, Google Pay and Apple Pay will be accepted) to make the entire process contactless.
One thing that will not change, however, is the availability of specific refreshments. Even with the limited capacity, all concessions -- from Boardwalk Eats to Chickie's and Pete's to Campo's to Federal Donuts, and everything in between -- will be open to fans.
"All your favorite items in the ballpark will be available," said Kevin Tedesco, the general manager of Aramark at Citizens Bank Park. "We're trying to make the experience the same for everyone that you've come used to in this ballpark. At the end of the day, we're trying to make it to where it's what you expect when you come to the ballpark."
Carolyn DiGiuseppe, the general manager of Spectra at Citizens Bank Park, added that the same practices being used to clean and sanitize clubhouses will be used in all areas accessed by fans.
There will also be a new bag policy in place, limiting the type of items allowed inside the ballpark. There will be no bags or backpacks allowed, with the exception of medical supplies, a diaper bag or a single-compartment purse. Those who arrive with bags will need to either return them to their vehicle or pay a nominal fee to place them in a provided locker on Citizens Bank Way.
To further limit person-to-person contact, parking passes can be purchased online prior to arriving at the ballpark. Fans are also encouraged to check their mobile tickets for a designated gate entry, which will not only expedite the process of getting into the park, but will also help limit the number of fans at a specific gate. Tailgating is not permitted in any of the lots.
With attendance limited to 8,800 fans for at least the first 19 home games (a decision on future home games is expected in mid-April), seats will be available in pods of mostly two or four seats. There will be limited pods of three, five or six seats, while any seat that is not part of a pod will be zip tied and unavailable.
"Mask up," said John Weber, vice president of ticket sales. "We've all been doing it for a year. Let's all just continue it for as long as we have to so that we can get 44,000 [fans] back into our park."