MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The St. Paul Saints marched back into CHS Field Tuesday night.
They are the first professional Minnesota sports team to play in front of fans, and they spent the first month of their season playing “home” games in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Things looked and felt different at CHS Field. Fans eager to watch live baseball showed up with masks on. They’re required to stay on unless in your seat and eating or drinking. People had a temperature check before being allowed in the ballpark.
“It was really pain free. It was no issue at all, pretty slick,” Burnsville resident Mike Wolander said. “It’s a great opportunity to enjoy a little bit of summer.”
Entrances were designed to get people to their section of the ballpark, where they have separate food stations and restrooms.
“We’re very grateful to be in a community where this is being offered in a socially-responsible way,” Hopkins resident Brendan Mangan said.
Six areas are also set up with socially-distant seating, capped at 250 in each area, and a 1,500 maximum in the ballpark.
“I would think that most of the people that are here tonight are just really happy to see actual sports in person,” Maplewood resident Mendee Tarnowski said.
Fans like Matt Starrett of Hudson, Wisconsin say they’d give the team some extra love during the game.
“I think that’s our obligation, for sure, yeah. You definitely got to cheer louder, gotta make up for the whole row that’s empty in front of you,” Starrett said.
Saints General Manager Derek Sharrer said they worked with state health officials to figure out the best way to allow fans to watch, saying the organization felt responsible to provide a small sense of normalcy, complete with antics and what fans have come to expect from the Saints.
“I wouldn’t call it toned down. I would call it socially distant,” Sharrer said. “We’re looking forward to proving that you can play it safe and still have fun.”
There are still tickets available for this first home stand through Aug. 9. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets online in advance so the team can send details about how the process goes, but there is a ticket window open. Click here for all the details.