Rays welcoming fans for first time since 2019

This year at Tropicana Field, catchers won't be the only ones wearing masks.

"It is going to be a new normal," said fan Leah Arnold.

She, like all Rays fans this season, will have to wear a mask, unless actively drinking or eating, which will is allowed in one’s own seat.

"We had to go back to the drawing board with our operations manual," explained Bill Walsh, the Rays vice president of strategy and development. "But we are taking the right precautions."

Lines outside will be socially distanced. The same goes for inside the stadium, where only 9,000 fans will be allowed. 

It's a far cry from the packed house they had for the last game fans were allowed in, the 2019 playoffs against the Astros.

"It has been a rough 14 months for a lot of folks," Walsh stated. "We are just excited to bring the magic of baseball back to Tropicana Field."

But fans won't be able to bring in much with them. No bags are allowed and tickets are on phone apps. Food can be ordered in advance using the app. The one thing you can bring is a sealed personal-sized bottle of water.

"A lot of things are going to be the same," Walsh shared. "We are playing baseball. There are hot dogs, there will be popcorn. There will be a lot of traditions still here to enjoy."

And there will be two new things to see: Championship banners for winning the AL East and the ALCS. This will be the first time fans can congratulate their Rays in person for making the World Series.

RELATED Rays sell out home opener against Yankees

"It's going to be a new normal for us," said Arnold. "We are so excited to be able to air hug everybody, air hug Ozzie, air hug all the team members, air hug our section 120 family."
The national anthem will be sung by Lynsey Bracken, an ER nurse at Bayfront Health.

The first pitch is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. and gates open at 1:40 p.m.