Tampa Bay Rays prepare for second season with pandemic, announce ticket plan

After a historic run to the World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays are prepping for a new season that will once again play out during a pandemic.

Pitchers and catchers reported Thursday as spring training began this week. The first game is set for Sunday, Feb. 28 against the Atlanta Braves. The stands, at least for now, are going to be empty, but the team says fans will be back in Tropicana Field once the regular season gets going – only in a fairly unconventional way.

In lieu of season tickets, the team announced this week that tickets will be sold on a so-called season membership basis. The membership is broken into six tiers, ranging in price from $500 to more than $20,000. Depending on the level of membership, fans will be able to then purchase tickets in certain areas of the park throughout the season.

Fans may still be able to purchase single-game tickets, depending on how many are left over after members make their buys.

St. Pete mayor, Rays owner at odds over Tropicana Field redevelopment plans

The Tampa Bay Rays have signaled they are interested in building a new stadium where Tropicana Field now sits, but they are at a standstill with their landlord, the city of St. Pete, on the future of the site. 

RELATED: Toronto Blue Jays will begin regular season in Dunedin

The Rays haven’t yet announced just how many fans they’ll allow in the Trop this season, nor have they said if spring training will allow for any fans at all.

Other teams in the region, those playing in outdoor venues, have announced various capacity limits.

The Rays won’t be the only show in town once the season begins. The Toronto Blue Jays have announced they’ll follow the lead of the Toronto Raptors and make Tampa their pandemic hometown, at least until May, in order to avoid international travel restrictions.

The Jays plan to play their first two home stands at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, which reopened last spring after major renovations.

RELATED: Businesses banking on spring training hope die-hard fans turn out despite limited ballpark attendance

The Toronto team also announced they'll cap fan capacity at 15% at TD Ballpark. That's close to 1,300 spectators.