BY Art Thiel 04:29PM 03/11/2021

Imagine: Sports events with fans. What a thing

Fans soon will return to T-Mobile, Lumen and outdoor sports facilities around the state as new coronavirus cases drop. New rules call for 25% capacity, masks and distance.

No more of this. Real fans starting April 1 at T-Mobile Park. / Alan Chitlik, Sportpress Northwest

In a major blow to the booming cardboard-cutout, faux-fan industry, but in a major buzz for humanoid fans and the teams they love, people will soon populate stadiums, yards and other gathering spots in the state of Washington.

By March 22, all 39 counties will have some COVID-19 fan attendance restrictions removed for outdoor events such Mariners, Sounders and OL Reign games, as well as high school sports, rodeos, motorsports and other outdoor events.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday afternoon that his Healthy Washington plan to re-open businesses had reached Phase 3, meaning as soon as March 22, restaurants, retailers, fitness centers and other indoor spaces can use up to 50% capacity. The new rules for youth sports and high school sports begin March 18. As the day began, 28 other MLB began plans to allow spectators.

About 9,000 fans will be allowed at the Mariners April 1 home opener against San Francisco at 25 percent capacity. The same percentage will work for the Sounders, Reign and any facilities with permanent seating. Masks and distancing will still be required.

It’s a start.

The news comes exactly one year after the NBA announced the first positive test among professional team athletes. The game was shut down, the season was shut down and the entire sports nation followed, grinding to a dead stop.

No March Madness. No prep championships. No Masters golf tournament until November. Each MLB team canceled 102 games from the usual 162-game schedule. The Sounders sneaked in a final home game March 7, most everyone there wondering if or when they might see another game. We all learned a phrase new to sports: “The bubble.”

But now, with a competent federal government distributing three kinds of vaccines, and a generally compliant citizenry cooperating with the safety requests of public health officials, state sports are returning in places besides TV, because new coronavirus cases are in decline.

Mariners chairman and principal owner John Stanton released a statement:

“We have been working closely with state and local officials the past several months to get ready for this day. The health and safety of our fans, players and employees is our number one consideration. With the guidance of experts and best practices for health and safety, we are thrilled to be able to welcome fans back to T-Mobile Park for the first time since 2019.”

Regarding ticket sales, the Mariners said only the first 11 games will be offered initially, and season ticket members will have priority to reserve seats ahead of single-game buyers. Mariners Mail subscribers will have access to a March 24 presale, and remaining single game tickets go on sale March 25 at

The Sounders open their regular season at Lumen Field April 16 against Minnesota. President of Business Operations Peter Tomozawa also released a statement.

“Since our gates closed to the public nearly one year ago to this day, we have been waiting for the moment to safely gather together again in support of this team that means so much to us all. To know that the day in question may just be over a month away is an incredibly exciting prospect for our entire Sounders family. We have said all along that public health and safety must come first before welcoming fans back, and while today’s news provides the type of hope and inspiration we all need right now, we will continue to take a methodical approach in implementing this process alongside regional health authorities, our partners at Lumen Field and MLS.”



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  • Hockeypuck

    COVID fatigue. No one gives a shit about the South African variant, Brazil variant, UK variant or the Larry, Curly Moe variant. At this point it wouldn’t matter if we were awash in the bubonic plague. It’s time to paaarrrteeee!

    • Kevin Lynch

      Hang on a second! I found the ‘Larry, Curly, Moe’ variant very effective! Good news department: recent daily numbers for Covid fatalities show a 50% drop from the highest numbers in January. Uncertain news department: this appears to justify both sides. You can argue the stringent changes, in concert with vaccines and building immunity, led us here so we should continue. The other side will say, “Okay. It worked. Now let’s move forward and reopen”. Covid-19may be back in the fall. March seems to be an opening window.

      • art thiel

        What is more certain is that most lives have been changed in some way forever, including having to deal permanently, in some form or level, with COVID.

        • LarryLurex70

          Pretty much that. I’m watching a college basketball conference tournament with fans in the stands and asking myself if I’d ever go back to a live sport or concert event again.

          • art thiel

            I’ve been wondering about the number of fans asking themselves the same question. Older people are more likely to shun attendance, but most young people believe they’re bulletproof. Are there enough of them with disposable income willing to spend to keep all team spectator sports afloat?

      • Hockeypuck

        It would be a tragedy if “too early” re-openings led to a spike in deaths caused by COVID variants we’re not prepared for. Seems to me that “holding the line” until the end of May (when most folks have been vaccinated) would have been a more prudent approach and given us a fighting chance against this thing. And at that point we’d just fully re-open, because, well, enough is enough – we did our best and its time to get on with our lives. Unfortunately, any wisdom accumulated with reference to COVID will be in hindsight. But I guess that’s life.

        Appreciate your articulate, balanced perspective. It’s unfortunate that in today’s world that reason, balance, and perspective are almost considered as weaknesses, rather than the strengths they REALLY are. Keep doin what you’re doin and thinking what you’re thinking. Hopefully the world will come around…..

    • art thiel

      Patience has never been a fervently adopted American virtue.

  • Husky73

    Hmmm….25% of T-Mobile would be 11,870…….. not 9,000 for the Mariners.

    • Mister Tacoma

      Maybe the number got confused with average attendance size. ;)

      • jafabian

        Maybe they’re including stadium employees, media, team personnel, entourages and WAG’s???

    • art thiel

      That’s what the Mariners said. Let’s wait to see.

      • Alan Harrison

        That’s what the state said – 9,000 or 1/4, whichever is fewer.

        • art thiel

          Thanks for settling this grave issue.

    • Mark Stratton

      I wouldn’t suspect the Mariners of being good at math

  • Husky73

    If I can watch my grand sons play baseball in Snoqualmie, I’ll be happy.

    • art thiel

      The little things count more these days.

      • Husky73

        And the little ones.

        • Rebecca Thompson

          Get $192 per h from Google!…~a701~ Yes this can be best since I simply got my initial payroll check of $24413 and this was just of a one week… love I have aslo purchased my good BMW M5 right after this payment…~a701~ it is really best job I have even had and you will not for-give yourself if you do not check it >>>> ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  • Husky73

    Will Climate Pledge Arena be at 100% capacity for the first drop of the puck?

    • art thiel

      I can’t predict football outcomes, much less pandemics.

    • LarryLurex70

      I wouldn’t think so. I’d be surprised if it is. Although, if allowed, I could possibly see it full just for the purpose of giving as many people as possible that “I-was-there” moment that people covet so much. But, at full capacity for the entire season would be a surprise. Especially if the ‘Hawks and Sounders aren’t doing it.

  • jafabian

    Part of me wishes that they would have waited. Disneyworld has reported that they’re sold out for Spring Break. Disneyland will wait until late April to reopen but other popular destinations will undoubtedly be busy during Spring Break as well. This could be the real test on how the country is doing in its COVID19 preparedness and how the vaccines work. At the very least we can say that we actually have vaccines rather than trying to pretend that COVID19 doesn’t exist. The speed and progress of getting people vaccinated has been key in fighting the virus.

    • Cheryl Boyle

      Get $192 p-h hour from Google!…~a900x~ Yes this can be best since I simply got my initial payroll check of $24413 and this was just of a one week… love I have aslo purchased my good BMW M5 right after this payment…~a900x~ it is really best job I have even had and you will not for-give yourself if you do not check it >>>> ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

    • art thiel

      The improving distribution of the vaccines is a game-changer. Getting restaurants and small businesses at least to 50 percent is critical.