Braves set 33% seating capacity for start of season

The Braves will limit Truist Park’s seating capacity to 33% for the start of the season, including the April 9 home opener, the team said Friday.

That means about 13,500 fans will be allowed in the 41,000-seat stadium, leaving room for social distancing between pods of occupied seats.

The Braves said they plan to re-evaluate capacity for each homestand as the coronavirus pandemic evolves through the season.

The home opener against the Philadelphia Phillies will mark the first game at Truist Park with fans in attendance since October 2019. The Braves, like other MLB teams, played a shortened 2020 season without fans in the stands.

“After a long and difficult year, we are excited to welcome Braves fans back to Truist Park beginning on April 9,” Braves President and CEO Derek Schiller said.

The reduced capacity for the start of the season means many fans who earlier purchased tickets won’t get the seats they previously bought. For months, the Braves sold tickets to the home opener and other games in a 100% capacity configuration, even though it long has been clear the season would begin with reduced capacity.

The Braves said Friday that fans who previously bought tickets to games in April, either in season-ticket packages or on a single-game basis, will have the purchases credited back to their accounts. They then will have several options regarding the re-ticketing of those games in the modified seating plan.

Season-ticket holders “will have the opportunity” to repurchase tickets to all 14 April home games in socially distanced pods, the Braves said. Other options will include getting “priority access” to single-game tickets for a lesser number of games in April, or using the credit toward games later in the season, or requesting a refund.

Single-game ticket buyers who previously purchased any of the first 14 home games will have the option of using their credit toward available April seats or toward games later in the season, or they can request a refund, the Braves said.

After season-ticket holders and previous single-game buyers make their choices, any remaining seats for April games will be available to the general public starting at 10 a.m. March 30, according to the Braves.

Ticketing plans for May and beyond will be announced later.

The Braves typically don’t reveal their season-ticket sales figures, but they told investors in team owner Liberty Media in 2017 that season tickets accounted for 54% of tickets sold that year. Based on announced attendance of about 2.5 million, that would mean about 1.35 million tickets were sold in season-ticket packages – the equivalent of about 17,000 full season tickets. It isn’t known how the number has changed since then.

But it’s clear the Braves have sold more tickets than the reduced capacity will allow. Less clear is how many season-ticket holders will want to repurchase seats in new locations.

The modified seating will be primarily in pods of two and four seats each, scattered around the stadium.

The Braves said other health and safety measures also will be in place, including a requirement to wear masks when not eating or drinking, enhanced sanitation and contactless ticketing and concessions ordering.

The Braves’ announcement came two days after the Texas Rangers said they plan to open their stadium, Globe Life Field, to full capacity for their home opener. Many MLB teams have disclosed plans for limited attendance in April.

The Phillies, who host the Braves in an April 1 season opener, said they’ll allow 8,800 fans, 20% of full capacity, at Citizens Bank Park. Other examples: The Colorado Rockies announced they’ll open the season at 42% capacity, the St. Louis Cardinals at 32%, the Chicago Cubs and White Sox at 20% and the Boston Red Sox at 12%.