The decision made by the Texas Rangers to open Globe Life Field at full capacity has been received mixed reviews, to say the least. Now, the President of the United States has weighed in.
In an interview with ESPN’s Sage Steele that aired on Wednesday night’s edition of SportsCenter, President Joe Biden spoke on several issues regarding health and safety protocols and slowing the spread of COVID-19 ahead of Major League Baseball’s Opening Day on Thursday.
“Well, that’s a decision they made. I think it’s a mistake,” Biden said of the Rangers’ choice to open Globe Life Field at full capacity. “They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists, and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible.”
Globe Life Field has a capacity of 40,300. They also fully opened their ballpark for their two exhibition games this week, but the largest attendance for either game was 12,911. However, the Rangers fully expect to sell out their home opener on Monday against the Toronto Blue Jays, though tickets are still available.
On the Rangers side of things, they cited Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders to fully open the state as the basis for why they decided to fully open their ballpark to begin the season.
“The Rangers are encouraged that the Governor’s Office has given clearance for us to fully open Globe Life Field at the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season,” said Rangers president of business operations and COO Neil Leibman in a March 10 press release.
Of course, part of fully opening their ballpark comes with many health and safety protocols in place, regardless of crowd size:
Masks will be required for all fans except when actively eating or drinking at their seats. The mask mandate is included in all concourse areas and when entering Globe Life Field.
Hand sanitizing stations will be available throughout the ballpark.
Globe Life Field will again be cashless, as it was for 2020 events. All tickets will be digital and only credit cards will be accepted at concession stands and retail locations.
Social distancing will be enforced in concession lines and retail locations.
No bags will be permitted except for those that are carried for medical reasons or manufactured diaper bags that accompany infants and young children.
In addition, the Rangers have remained steadfast that they have worked with both local and federal officials regarding health and safety for their fans and players. They even studied the procedures executed by Dallas Cowboys when they hosted fans next door at AT&T Stadium during the past NFL season.
“We’ve been following CDC guidance and local public health authorities,” Rangers executive vice president of business operations Rob Matwick said in a call with the media earlier this spring. “We’ve had those conversations with city and CDC — we’ve followed the federal guidelines for everything we’ve done.”
There is one recent development that could help the Rangers avoid further criticism. As of this past Monday, all adults in the state of Texas are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Even so, the Rangers are the only MLB club to fully open their ballpark. The Houston Astros are permitted to fully open Minute Maid Park under the governor’s executive orders but have erred on the side of caution, opening their ballpark at 50 percent capacity.
Other clubs hope to fully open their ballparks as the season progresses, but have held off for now while COVID-19 vaccines continue to be distributed throughout the country. The Rangers stand-alone, which opened themselves up to criticism from the most powerful office in the country.