Fans Return to Yankee Stadium for the First Time Since 2019

October 18, 2019 was the last time The Bronx’s Yankee Stadium was filled with tens of thousands of adoring fans of America’s favorite past time, or any fans for that matter.

Fans were barred from attending games at stadiums last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with The Bronx being the epicenter of the crisis, Yankee Stadium was no exception.

Everywhere you turn, signs are posted alerting fans of COVID-19 restrictions, regulations, and guidelines that will govern their time at the stadium.

Businesses in the shadow of the stadium have been suffering perhaps more than the average mom and pop given the fact that they can generally rely on over 40,000 fans that attend a game at Yankee Stadium on a typical day.

With the coronavirus pandemic all that pedestrian traffic came to a grinding halt but today, some relief was in sight.

Fans enjoy food and beer at Stan’s on River(a) Avenue.

Today’s opening game against the Blue Jays will have fans in attendance for the first time in 18 months as almost 11,000 fans are allowed back in but under heavy COVID-19 safety protocols.

The stadium will only allow 20% of its 54,251 capacity, or 10,850 fans and attendees will need to show proof of a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of the game or proof of vaccination.

Temperature checks are required for entry to Yankee Stadium along with proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours or proof of vaccination.

Spectators will be spread apart in pods of 2 or 4 with sufficient distance between each group and everyone must wear masks at all times. Temperatures will also be checked before allowed entrance into the ball park as well.

Markedly absent also will be the lack of vendors in the stands but you’ll still be able to get food and beverages at concession stands but be prepared to pay in plastic as the stadium has gone cashless in the era of the coronavirus as a way to limit contact and spread.

Cocktails to go but not without food as per New York State regulations during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Meanwhile outside the stadium, fans appeared happy to be back and drinking with friends at mainstays like Billy’s and the air was rather jubilant with crowds of laughing fans and live DJs playing music on sidewalks.

But it’s going to take more than just under 11,000 fans coming to the area to help uplift the local businesses and not even having games at full capacity will close the immense financial gap left after 18 months of lack of fans at Yankee Stadium.

A visibly less crowded opening day which on any other year would see a throng of over 50,000 fans is limited to just under 11,000 spectators due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines and regulations.

While businesses have adapted to not having fans for 6 months of the year, this was something no one could have planned for.

Yankee Stadium will continue to operate as a vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care and the National Guard as it has been doing since February through at least the end of April. Since the stadium became a mass vaccination site, over 75,000 Bronxites have been vaccinated.

Despite all the regulations, families and die hard fans came to enjoy Opening Day at Yankee Stadium

As more and more residents get vaccinated, we can only hope that one day things will return to normal and we’ll have a stadium full at capacity with revelers hopping around local establishments and spending their hard earned money to keep them alive.

For now, let’s enjoy what we can as responsibly and safely as possible.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.