Hal Steinbrenner expects fans in Bronx in 2020

July 2nd, 2020

NEW YORK -- Hal Steinbrenner anticipates that there will be fans in the seats at Yankee Stadium during the 2020 regular season, the Yankees managing general partner told the YES Network.

“I do expect to see fans in our stadium at some point, to some degree, and that’s going to be a great day,” Steinbrenner said in an interview with YES Network's Meredith Marakovits that was released on Thursday.

While fans will not be in attendance for Summer Camp at Yankee Stadium, Steinbrenner said that he is encouraged about the possibility of hosting fans in The Bronx, citing recent discussions with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“He’s been a big advocate to getting sports back on the field and then eventually, when things are safe, to get fans back in the stadium,” Steinbrenner said of Cuomo. “So, between the two of them, we’ve had multiple conversations over the course [of], really, the last month.”

Yankees president Randy Levine has previously stated that the team believes it will be possible to host fans for home games if social-distancing measures, such as masks, gloves and temperature checks, are incorporated.

“We’ve done a lot of work,” Steinbrenner said. “Ticketmaster has been great helping us out, really putting a diagram together which would keep everybody at least six feet apart, and it would be limited. I’m sure it’ll be in the 20-30 percent [capacity] range, hopefully, at first. It’s definitely possible in the stadium to keep people at a safe distance, wearing masks at those capacities.”

The Yankees had originally planned to hold Summer Camp at their spring complex in Tampa, Fla., where numerous players continued to train after Spring Training was halted on March 12. A recent spike in Florida’s COVID-19 infection rate necessitated the shift to Yankee Stadium, which Steinbrenner said was a “difficult” decision.

“We had spent weeks and weeks and weeks really perfecting sanitation techniques and products,” Steinbrenner said. “[We] got a lot of outside advice, and we had both facilities down there [in Florida] ready to go, safe as any facilities anywhere in the country. But things did heat up, so we made the decision. Things were calming down up here [in New York], to move back, even though the facilities were probably better for that amount of people down in Tampa.”

General manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone have said that the club will attempt to use all available space within the footprint of Yankee Stadium, including having players dress in the visiting, home and auxiliary clubhouses and performing drills in both the home and road bullpens and batting cages. A secondary training site is being prepared at PNC Field in Moosic, Pa., home of the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

“We are going to make sure that everybody safe distances, and we’re just going to have to get through these three weeks, and then we will be utilizing Scranton in all likelihood for the other half of the team, so to speak,” Steinbrenner said. “But we’ll get through it. We’ll make sure that everybody is safe, everybody is keeping their distances and following the protocols. We’ll make it happen.”

As camp progresses, Steinbrenner said that he will have his eyes set upon stars like outfielders Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton, as well as up-and-coming talent like right-handers Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the guys that were injured,” Steinbrenner said. “Most of them have been in Tampa, obviously, so I have spent a lot of time with them and they have been progressing well, and hopefully we get them all back for Opening Day. But it’s going to be great to see 60 guys all in the same place, including our top prospects and others.”