New York State to allow 20% capacity at Yankee Stadium, Citi Field

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Thursday that Yankee Stadium and Citi Field may operate under 20% capacity to open the 2021 season. This is a change from the previous 10% capacity allowed for all professional sporting events. Indoor events must remain under 10% capacity.

To attend Yankees or Mets games, fans will either have to show proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of any given game. Masks and social distancing are required while seats will be divided into pods of up to eight people.

“We are heartened by the Governor’s decision to allow us to begin the season at Yankee Stadium with a 20% capacity and offer our deep appreciation for his office’s diligent work and guidance,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “This will be a very special year in the Bronx, and we will continue to work together with the State of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City of New York, Major League Baseball, and other health and safety experts to utilize the best and most responsible practices in our facility. We are fully committed to providing a world-class experience at Yankee Stadium in every respect.”

 

The Islanders playing outdoors next season? Would have be pretty cool

New York Islanders

The NHL and NHLPA is doing everything its power to try and get the 2020-21 season off the ground. And as of yesterday, that included the possibilities of teams playing their games outdoors because of all the craziness that the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked.

First reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, at least four clubs — Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins — were looking at the option of having games outdoors as a means to having fans in attendance.

Kudos to those teams for thinking outside the box with trying to get fans back in a unique way. A lot of the league’s revenue comes from the gate and fans attending games.

How this pertains to the Islanders? It doesn’t have much of an effect on them. They were not one of the teams mentioned in the report. But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t have made for some fun if they did in fact take things outdoors for select home games.

The Isles haven’t played in an outdoor game since  the 2013-14 season when they faced off with the Rangers at Yankee Stadium in the league’s Stadium Series event. A lot will argue they’ve been overlooked for being put in the event since (cough, 2018 Winter Classic).

Seeing them play outside again this upcoming year, even in the current state of things, would have been a thrill for the fans and probably the players as well. It’s also not like they wouldn’t have had the perfect place to ice those games.

Flushing’s Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, would have provided the perfect backdrop for the Islanders to host games at least until the start of the next baseball season.

Citi Field played host to the outdoor game between the Rangers and Sabres two years ago on New Year’s Day and it was a rousing success. The ballpark is also just a short car ride from the Isles’ future home at UBS Arena and their current home, Nassau Coliseum. Fans would come in droves if the opportunity presented itself. That’s not up for debate.

Just imagine some of the marquee tilts that would usually take place at the Coliseum but on a outdoor stage.

Isles-Rangers six years after their first meeting in the Bronx? Facing Crosby and the Pens or Ovi and the Capitals in front of a nationwide audience? What about a nighttime showdown with John Tavares and the Leafs?

Those would make for some special moments, even if it meant being in a socially-distanced environment.

Outdoor games have always been a special one-time event that the league loves to market and take advantage of. If they did in fact take place this season, no one would complain.

The Islanders most likely won’t take part, but it would have been a cool thing to see if they did.

A few Isles notes:

*Simon Holmstrom will play for Team Sweden in the World Juniors which are set to begin later this month in Edmonton. Holmstrom played games in Bridgeport last season, but this tournament should provide fans a chance to really see him up close for the first time.

*Anthony Beauvillier on Wednesday spoke about this past season — his fourth pro season — and how he got more comfortable playing under Barry Trotz and Lou Lamoriello for a second season. Also said he would like to see Derick Brassard return and that the whole Anna Kendrick Twitter shot was a dare by his cousin.

*Fun stat by the NHL’s Public Relations department how the Islanders are the best shootout team since the league implemented the format back in 2005-06. Frans Nielsen’s league-record 49 goals are responsible for that feat.

*Classy move by Johnny Boychuk to shoutout Blue Line Deli on NHL Network earlier in the week after the sandwich shop created a sandwich in honor of his retirement, “The Johnny Rocket”.

New York Mets To Use Fan Cutouts During Home Games

The New York Mets are taking a page straight out of the Korean Baseball League’s playbook. Due to COVID-19 precautions, Major League Baseball will not allow any fans into their stadiums. The Mets will offer fans the opportunity to submit cutouts of themselves to replace the actual fans.

The Oakland Athletics were also another team to implement this plan. Since fans cannot physically interact at Citi Field, the Mets have to improvise on ways to show fans a new gameday experience. The details for the entire plan are still in the works, but more organizations through baseball will likely do the same.

Who Gets One?

Season-ticket holders who renewed their plans for the 2021 season are already guaranteed to have their cutout. Along with their season ticket perks comes the chance to purchase more cardboard cutouts at a lower price. For the rest of Mets fans, they will wait for the organization to announce a price for the general public.

The KBO not only experimented with cardboard cutouts, but they also instilled the help of actual stuffed animals to fill their seats behind home plate. Opportunities like this quickly go south when people send in things like vulgar references, advertisements, and political statements. The Mets made it clear that anything of that nature is prohibited.

For most players, a game with no crowd is an experience they have not seen since they played in high school. None of them ever experienced Citi Field utterly empty except for the press and other staff. Stadiums can pump in crowd noise, but nothing replaces the roar, or boos, that comes from a New York Mets fanbase.

Spring Training 2.0 Has Arrived and The New York Mets Are Back

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

Throughout all of the back and forth of a difficult negotiation, Major League Baseball can finally open up Spring Training 2.0. The New York Mets and their pool of players embark on their restarted journey towards a World Series championship.

There are not many details based on how camp will operate, but health is their priority. Brodie Van Wagenen said the designed workouts keep players as socially distant as possible. Luckily only one player on the 40-man roster tested positive for the COVID-19 and is recovering fine. Holding their Spring Training at Citi Field allows them to train in a safer area compared to the COVID-19 epicenter that Florida has become.

One Field, For 50-Plus Players

The Mets have to make use out of their limited space at Citi Field. Unlike their Port St. Lucie facility, they only have one field to use. Outside of the main field in the stadium, the Mets have four mounds in the bullpens along with the home/away hitting tunnels. Extra mounds could set up in the outfield and foul territory as well. If the Mets needed additional space for pitchers, they could also use the walkways and parking lost of Citi Field as well.

MCU Park in Brooklyn is another option for the Mets to transport players. Any thought of that is just talk right now and would only happen if things became too hectic at Citi Field. The Mets have stayed quiet on the topic of how things will run, but we will get a good idea of it within the first few days. Simulated games could happen as soon as this week for pitchers who were throwing before July 1.

Exhibition games are a tougher question for the Mets. The only local team is the crosstown Yankees, who they will see during the regular season. To prevent extra travel, the Mets might be better off with intersquads before the season beginning.

The top things Mets fans want to see are a healthy Yoenis Cespedes, Dellin Betances, Michael Conforto, and hopefully Jed Lowrie. On the pitching side, there is Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, along with how Edwin Diaz looks in a potential rebound season. Hopefully, the Mets answer most of the questions regarding the restarted Spring Training during day one and if not during week one.

New York Mets May Use Citi Field as “Spring Training” Site

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Due to the second wave of COVID-19 breaking out in Florida and Arizona, Major League Baseball is shutting down all of their Spring Training facilities in both states. Along with the season negotiations, this adds another hurdle to baseball’s return. The New York Mets will have a critical decision to make regarding where their games will take place.

While each facility is shut down they will go through deep cleaning and hopefully reopen early next week. This was after the Mets reopened their facility on June 2 for individual workouts. With virus numbers moving in the opposite direction in New York, the Mets might decide to play games in Citi Field instead of the facilities at Clover Park.

Citi Field vs. Clover Park

Brodie Van Wagenen was a fan of using Clover Park as recent as last week. The updated facility is perfect for the Mets to get ready for the season due to their multiple fields and training facilities. For the sake of the player’s health, the best move may come in moving to Citi Field.

If the Mets opt to train at Citi Field their only field will be the stadium along with the hitting tunnels below the field. Due to the expansive parking lots, the Mets could discover a way to use it as another place for players to train. It would likely limit to their Spring Training opponents to the New York Yankees if they decided to play their games in the Bronx.

As numbers continue to spike upwards, a decision for the Mets could come as soon as Saturday.

New York Mets: Citi Field Workers Awaiting Pay During Coronavirus Halt

The Coronavirus effect has shutdown sports altogether, but it has not just affected the lives of the athletes. Throughout sports, we are seeing the employees who help create a good stadium experience unable to work due to social distancing. The New York Mets pledged $1 million to their Citi Field employees, but the Mets are still figuring out how to allocate the funds.

Citi Field workers have not heard from ownership or the organization on how or when they will receive paychecks. Aramark, the foodservice client that staffs Citi Field with contracted workers, has not reached out either.

Who Pays Who?

It is unclear who pays who during this situation because we have never seen a pandemic like this. In comparison to the Barclays Center, all of their food workers received pay since the NBA/NHL shutdown. The Boston Red Sox chipped in an extra $500,000 to help their workers get through these tough times.

This is a trying time for a majority of the country, and there is no precedent on the correct to handle everything. There is also plenty of uncertainty for everyone involved. For an organization known more for idiocy than intelligence, hopefully, they do not make matters worse.