Fans relish return to live sport at World Series

Arlington (United States) (AFP) –


After a coronavirus-disrupted season that featured cardboard cutouts and piped in music at Major League Baseball parks, a limited number of lucky fans are relishing a chance to watch World Series games at Globe Life Field.

"It's once in a lifetime," Robert Yanez, a Dodgers fan who lives about a three hours drive away in Texas, said of the chance to see his team play in the World Series.

Major League Baseball allowed 11,500 fans into Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers, for National League Championship Series games between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves and for World Series games.

They're scattered around a brand new retractable roof ballpark that can accommodate more than 40,000.

Tickets for the series were put on sale in pods of four for social distancing purposes. Secondary ticket sale sites meanwhile offered tickets in pairs, with the most expensive available costing $2,500 each on one website on Tuesday.

Hand sanitizing stations are ubiquitous, along with signs urging fans to practice social distancing, wear their masks properly and keep their hands clean.

But the smell of grilling hotdogs and popcorn also wafts through the concourses a delight for hardcore fans who were denied live baseball all summer.

Rangers fan Martha Weeks of Texas said she'd been going through baseball withdrawal "big time" as spectators were banned for the pandemic-shortened season.

It meant she had to wait to get a glimpse inside her team's new contemporary-looking home that features soaring glass windows and masses of metal and overlooks their old brick-faced ballpark across the street.

"This is my first time here since they finished it," she said. "So far so good."

She found the protocols in place to curb the spread of the virus "understandable."

"Everybody's been in shut-down for several months and we know the drill," she said. "It would be nice to see it full of fans but it is what it is. Next year."

Tuesday's game one presented Weeks with a quandary when it came to a rooting interest.

"I kind of want the Rays because they're American League," she said. But she noted that Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw "is a Texas boy, so going to have to kind of root for him tonight."

- 'Pretty crazy' -

Dodgers fans were much in evidence, and not just those from Texas.

"I told my boss yesterday, I flew out this morning and I'm flying back home tomorrow," Chris Bergman of Los Angeles said.

He's not worried the neutral venue and sparse number of spectators will dull the atmosphere.

"I think there's enough Dodgers fans we'll get it just as loud as 50,000 people," he said.

"It's pretty crazy," Yanez said of attending a baseball game amid an ongoing pandemic.

"You never thought that you'd see something like this ever in a lifetime, but for as chaotic as it's been I would say they have it very well organized.

"The seats were well apart, there really wasn't any kind of inconvenience factor. Everything was well organized, well put together."

Yanez, who said that in a normal year he would bring his son to eight to 10 Rangers games, said he and his family are taking the virus precautions seriously.

"Like every time we get up and go get something to drink you have to touch the rails when you're getting up so you get the hand sanitizer on your way in and your way out as much as you can.

"We do understand that just the simple fact that you get so many people together in one area the chances of the virus being here are likely.

"But you just do what you can to prevent it."