Surprise, surprise. There might be fans at Fenway Park after all.

Rob Bradford
June 24, 2020 - 10:05 pm
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When the idea of baseball coming back in 2020 was being hatched it seemed like a forgone conclusion that fans wouldn't be part of the equation.

Evidently, things have changed.

Appearing on a Zoom call with the media Wednesday night, Red Sox president Sam Kennedy left the door open for fans to attend games at Fenway Park at some point during the upcoming 60-game regular season.

"I would say it’s a possibility if it were to become a reality it would be because of the great work that the state of Massachusets and the city of Boston have done," Kennedy said. "(Governor) Charlie Baker and (Lieutenant Governor) Karyn Polito and (Boston Mayor) Marty Walsh and Kathryn Burton and all of their teams. They’ve been under fire and under the gun day in and day out for four months. But if you look at the data and the numbers would suggest all of their work and the great work of people who live around Boston and New England is starting to pay off as the data is improving in our region.

"If we do have any possibility of having fans in the stands as we return at some point, it would be because of that great work of our elected officials and all of the citizens who have respected the medical experts. So we are hopeful to have fans at some point. We need fans at Fenway Park. Our fans give us a competitive advantage. I can tell you there are clubs around Major League Baseball that are anticipating having fans in their ballparks. It’s an incredibly important part of our business, of our baseball operations, so we’d like to get to that point. But I can’t tell you when that would happen. But we are working through the protocols that would be required to pursue the opportunity someday in the future."

The Red Sox aren't alone in their optimism regarding putting fans in the stands. In fact, places like Chicago and Houston are already planning to kick off their seasons in late July with paying customers.

Part of the reasoning for those markets freely accepting fans is that the state governments are giving the go-ahead, as was evidenced during a television interview with a Texas governor Greg Abbott:

But perhaps the most telling comments came from Astros owner Jim Crane when asked about the aggressive approach when it came to fans at games:

Later on the call with Kennedy and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom the team president slightly reeled in some of the initial optimism regarding getting fans at Fenway.

"I want to make sure I’m clear. I hope that we can have fans back in the stands because of the competitive advantage that it gives you to have fans, but I don’t know that we will," he said. "But I also, it’s probably a little bit me personally just projecting my own hope that fans will be back at Fenway Park. I just anticipate it being extremely odd when we get going playing Major League Baseball games in front of no fans, it being a strange environment. It is, I think, important that if we do it, can do it, we do it in a safe and responsible way following CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleanliness, face coverings, and the like. We’ll see how it goes. I think it’s incredibly important that we start, when it’s safe, to start to try and get back to some sense of normalcy. I know for me, that has always been going to baseball games and I think our fans want that and ultimately I think our players want that. We all want to start to try and get back to some sense of normalcy when it’s safe and appropriate. Just to be clear, I don’t have a timetable on that, but I personally hope it’s as soon as humanly possible."