Red Sox Gear up for Home Opener to Empty Stadium

Though Friday, July 24 is the long-awaited Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles, Fenway Park will be empty save for the players and personnel, and will not be filled with the same sounds, sights, or smells that a live crowd typically provides—but those elements will be closely replicated.

In place of the live crowd—which is not permitted due to health regulations—sounds of people cheering will be piped in over the PA system, and instead of peanuts and Fenway Franks inside the stadium, spectators can experience the game from outside at venues on Lansdowne St. at a safe distance from one another, or from the comfort of their own living room with enhanced elements on the broadcast.

Baseball, like nearly every other industry, activity, and sport, will look very different this year. The Major League Baseball 60-game regular season kicks off on July 23 with Opening Night, followed by Opening Day on July 24.

With so many changes to the regular season this year, the Red Sox have put together a neighborhood FAQ that was sent out to residents in the area.

The MLB has announced that each team will play a total of 60 games this season, and the Red Sox will be playing 30 of their games at Fenway Park. All Monday through Friday games will begin at 7:30pm, except for Saturday, July 25, where the game will begin at 1:35pm, and August 13, where the game will begin at 4:30. Sunday games will begin at 1:35pm, the Red Sox announced.

The MLB has announced that the postseason format will remain the same as it has since 2012.

Even though no spectators will be inside the park, music and board announcements will be played as usual. “In addition, we plan to play simulated crowd noise to enhance the game experience for the players and for those watching at home on TV,” the Red Sox wrote in the FAQ. “Sound levels in and around the ballpark will not differ much from seasons past.”

NESN and WEEI 93.7 FM will broadcast all games, and “this season’s NESN broadcasts will feature new, innovative elements to add to the viewer’s experience…” the FAQ states.

For those curious about street closures, the Red Sox reported that five hours prior to the first pitch, Jersey Street adjacent to Fenway Park between Van Ness St. and Brookline Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic. Seven hours prior to first pitch, Van Ness St between Jersey St. and Ipswich St. will also be closed to vehicular traffic. After the game is over, both portions will reopen within two to three hours, the Red Sox said.

“As in the past, there will be full pedestrian access on one side of Van Ness Street, and local residents will be given pedestrian access on Jersey Street,” the Red Sox said.

The Red Sox advised people to not gather outside of the ballpark “seeking photos or autographs.”

The MLB has also released protocols that will be implemented to prevent spreading COVID-19 during the season. Some of those protocols include testing players, coaches, and other staff for the virus “every other day during Summer Camp, the regular season and postseason,” according the MLB’s official website. In addition to the regular testing, antibody testing will take place once a month, and players will have their temperatures checked and be evaluated for symptoms twice a day.

“Social distancing will be encouraged as much as possible both on the field and off,” the MLB stated. “Players and other team personnel not participating in the game will be sitting in the stands, at least six feet apart.”

For more information on the rules and regulations of this season, as well as answers to more frequently asked questions, visit mlb.com.

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