Nationals owner Mark Lerner ‘hopeful’ fans will return to stands in 2021

Matt Weyrich
·2 min read
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Nationals owner ‘hopeful’ fans will return to stands in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

As the Nationals inch closer to their season opener against the New York Mets on April 1, the club still has yet to find out whether it will be playing its Opening Day game in front of screaming fans or an empty ballpark.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has preached patience while the city’s health officials evaluate the ever-changings effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the region. But with most other teams across MLB receiving permission from their own state and local governments to open up their stadiums in limited capacity — for one team, even full capacity — the Nationals are in the same state of limbo they’ve been in since the pandemic shut down spring training a year ago Friday.

Washington’s principal owner Mark Lerner penned a letter to Nationals fans Thursday, expressing optimism for the ballpark being opened at some point in the near future.

“I got the chance to sit in the stands for a recent game and it was an amazing feeling to be back in the ballpark,” Lerner wrote. “We cannot wait to host fans again up at Nationals Park and we are hopeful that it won’t be too long until we are able to do so. You all deserve to properly celebrate the 2019 World Championship team in-person and I know the atmosphere in the ballpark will be electric when our incredible fans are able to return home.”

The Nationals, like the other 29 teams in MLB, played out the 60-game 2020 season without fans in attendance. MLB didn’t see a single spectator admitted until the National League Championship Series and World Series, which were both hosted at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field with between 10,000-12,000 fans attending each game. All clubs have been permitted to seat fans at their spring training games in Florida and Arizona this year.