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The Syracuse Mets will welcome 2,163 fans to NBT Stadium for their home game against the Scranton / Wilkes-Barre Railriders on Tuesday. The game will be Onondaga County's largest face-to-face meeting since before the pandemic.
The 2020 absence of Mets baseball had an impact on staff within the organization and in the Onondaga County community, said Michael Tricarico, director of broadcasting and media relations for the Mets. Seasonal employees are out of work and interaction with fans has been severely limited.
"(We are) ready to do what we do, which is a great show and be there for the fans," said General Manager Jason Smorol.
All fans must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. Fans must be 14 days away from their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or their single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Unvaccinated fans can have a PCR test 72 hours before the first pitch or a rapid antigen test within six hours after the game.
Onondaga County and the Mets will be running free trials for fans in the NBT Bank Stadium parking lot in the days leading up to opening day. So far, nearly 100 fans have signed up to get tested before the opening day, Smorol said.
The procedures are carried out in a designated area for access control. At the screening checkpoint, in addition to proof of vaccination or a negative test result, temperature tests and a contact tracking questionnaire are required.
NBT Bank Stadium is limited to 20% capacity and the fans present will be distributed throughout the stadium in pods that can accommodate up to six people. Each pod is placed 6 feet apart. Although New York State increases outdoor capacity to 33% as of May 19, the stadium is too small to accommodate that capacity with adequate social distancing, according to Smorol.
"Our job is to bring them in, protect them, entertain them, make everyone come back and enjoy themselves," said Smorol.
Having fans on opening day isn't always a guarantee, Smorol said. The organization wasn't sure they'd even have a season until January – let alone one with fans.
Sarah Jimenez Miles | Design editor
Minor League Baseball postponed its Triple-A season from April to May on March 2nd. MLB used the extra month to create alternative training venues for small league players and to reduce air travel related to the small league season.
While the Mets were disappointed with the delay in the season, COVID-19 cases have declined and vaccination rates have increased across the county this month, Tricarico said. In Onondaga County, more than half the population has received at least one dose of vaccine.
In addition to the shortened season, the Mets will only compete against opponents from the Northeast Division. Each series consists of six direct games against the same opponent at the same location, with the series starting on Tuesday and Monday being a travel day. The aim is to reduce travel and the potential spread of COVID-19 for all teams during the season.
"It's time to let the community out again, get back to normal a bit, and see a lot of old friends and faces," said Smorol.
Posted on May 2, 2021 at 11:55 pm
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