Fans return to see successful young team

Mariners’ keeping fans safe, winning on the field

Troy Vigil, Staff Reporter

T-Mobile Park is at a limited capacity so far in the 2021 season, meaning seats that are not in use are zip tied off to prevent fans from using them. (Daniel Newman)

Opening Day has a similar feel to Christmas Eve. As soon as word broke that fans would be allowed into T-Mobile Park, they were eagerly counting down the days until the start of the season.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said that the state would be moving into its third stage of reopening on March 22, opening up outdoor capacity to 25% following CDC guidelines, allowing for fans to see their favorite professional teams and to attend high school sporting events.

Despite the pandemic, the Mariners are taking steps to limit virus transmission. High-touch areas have been reduced, making getting into the game easier than ever. On all entrances of the ballpark, there are new metal detectors that allow visitors to simply walk through without having to empty their pockets.

Sophomore Jonathan Sharpe said he was excited when he heard that fans would be allowed into the stadium.

“Baseball is by far my favorite sport, and going to a baseball game is one of my favorite things,” Sharpe said. “The last game I went to was the day before I started classes at SPU, game 162 of the 2019 season.”

Sharpe, who attends three to five games a year, said he is most excited to have a full season of baseball: 162 games compared to last year’s 60. This will allow for many exciting new memories.

The restrooms at T-Mobile Park have specific entrances and exits, and have some stalls blocked off to promote social distancing and help all fans stay safe while enjoying the game. (Daniel Newman)

“It’s hard to pinpoint my favorite Mariners memory, since I’ve been to many exciting games.” Sharpe said, mentioning his attendance at Felix Hernandez’s perfect game in 2012.

Sharpe also said the stadium has done a good enough job at keeping everyone safe, and he has already purchased tickets for later in the month. With things like socially distanced pods, cashless transactions, and mobile tickets, it seems the correct actions are being put in place to limit contact and spread.

Dr. Traynor Hansen, an assistant professor of writing and english at SPU, has been a Mariners fan for as long as he can remember.

“I’m excited for fans to be back at the games, although now my cardboard cutout from last season is feeling left out.” Hansen said. “I’ll wait until after I’ve had my second vaccine to be safe, just to be safe.” he continued.

Hansen trusts the protocols and professionals working to keep fans safe.

“I hope we have the chance to ease back into whatever the new normal will be, rather than having it switch back all at once.” Hansen said. “T-Mobile has always seemed like a relatively clean ballpark experience to me.”

The Mariners, who currently sit tied for first in the American League West, are starting the season off on the right foot. With a promising lineup filled with young players such as JP Crawford, Ty France and Evan White, there is no telling where they will finish.

After being under COVID-19 protocols for the better part of a year, fans will be excited to see their favorite players like Mitch Haniger, Kyle Lewis, and Marco Gonzales.

Sharpe’s favorite player to watch is right-fielder Mitch Haniger, who is returning from injuries.

“He was an excellent player before he got injured, and he missed the 2nd half of 2019 and all of 2020 … he’s reached base in every game the Mariners have played and leads the team in home runs.” Sharpe added.

Sharpe, Hansen and the rest of Mariners fans are ready to settle in, watch their favorite players and enjoy a hotdog with the sounds of the ballpark. As more people are vaccinated and coronavirus numbers hopefully flatten out, we may have hope for a summer filled with fun, memories, and sports.