If you can believe it, it's almost baseball season again — and this time it's starting on schedule and there will be fans in the stands. The San Francisco Giants have teased out plans to welcome fans back to Oracle Park in recent months, and next week they're expecting to have 9,200 fans in the stands for their home opener against the Colorado Rockies.*

"We expect to be at about 20 percent capacity — around 8,000 tickets," said team spokesperson Staci Slaughter, speaking to the Examiner earlier this week about the April 9 game. Season ticket holders will get priority, and the team is reportedly still awaiting final approval from city officials for the capacity limit.

According to the state's guidelines under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, counties in the "Orange" tier can have professional sports with live audiences outdoors at 20% capacity, with assigned seating only and in-seat concessions only — no concourse sales. San Francisco can choose to impose stricter rules than this, but the Giants are our testing ground.

Mayor London Breed tweeted two weeks ago that the city was "working with the Giants about details for Opening Day and we’ll have more info for you soon."

The team is taking extra steps to insure less cross-traffic among fans — with distinct zones of seats, presumably with different entrance and exit paths. And tickets will be sold in "pods" of two to four seats, with a minimum of six feet separating each seated group.

If San Francisco moves into the less restrictive "Yellow" tier in the coming weeks, as is expected, all of these rules would still apply — but the stadium could be allowed to have 25% capacity in the seats.

SF city officials are expected to sign off the team's plans by Wednesday, at which point there will be an official announcement about ticket sales. Slaughter tells the Examiner that sales will be month-to-month, "given the changing dynamics."

"Current season ticket members have first priority to April games, we are going through that sales process right now," she said. "We expect to put remaining April tickets on sale to the public later this week."

The actual season opener for the Giants is on Thursday, April 1, up in Seattle.

The Giants had a not-great mini season in 2020, finishing out with a 29-31 record, and all their games featured cardboard cutouts of fans in the stands. Games broadcast on Fox, you may recall, also included fake crowd noise and the occasional CGI "wave" done by a CGI "crowd."

It's a new year, though, and the scoreboards reset. And maybe they could use with some live, in-person cheers. Just do it with a mask on.

Update: The Giants have been cleared to host 9,200 fans in the stands, at 22% of total capacity in the ballpark, but there's a catch: Everyone in attendance will need to show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test.

"The San Francisco Department of Public Health would like to thank Giants fans for taking the additional step to get vaccinated or tested before the game," said Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s Acting Health Officer, in a statement. "Your cooperation helps keep not only everyone attending and working at the game safe, but also protects our entire community."

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