“Take me out to the ballgame/Take me out to the crowd…”
That second line is about to reverberate loud (very loud) and clear in Kansas this summer as the Kansas City Monarchs Baseball Club has announced 100 percent capacity at Legends Field.
The decision, announced by the team last week, was made in accordance with updated protocols from Unified Government of Wyandotte County/Kansas City, Unified Government Public Health Department (UGPHD).
Opening day is next Tuesday, May 18 and the Monarchs are ready.
But, say team officials, the decision wasn’t made lightly – and they are putting into place a few measures designed to increase safety.
The groundwork for the decision on spectators was laid during a special session on April 29, in which officials from the UG Public Health Department (UGPHD) presented a COVID-19 update to the UG Commission. The presentation included a recommendation to adopt an updated mask order in alignment with those recently issued in Jackson County and Kansas City, Missouri. The commission issued an updated mask order that went into effect on April 30. Under the new order, mask protocols will continue for most public indoor settings. However, outdoor mask requirements and social distancing requirements are no longer in place.
After subsequent conversations with UG officials and the American Association of Professional Baseball, the decision was made for the Monarchs to sell up to 7,000 tickets per game. Indoor seating will still require masks as recommended by the UGPHD and the team will recommend but not require masks for outdoor seating per the order. The Monarchs also plan to make certain locations of Legends Field “Distanced Seating” sections, for those who prefer more space between occupied seats.
“Reaction to the announcement has been overwhelmingly positive,” a team official told SDM. “Concerns have been mitigated by the socially distanced seating option.”
Nudging the decision along was a downward spiral in the number of positive COVID cases in the area.
“As we look forward to our 2021 season, we want our fans to know that their health and safety, along with that of our players, coaches, and event staff, is – and always will be – priority number one,” said Monarch’s owner Mark Brandmeyer. “We are committed to working with the league and UGPHD to maintain a world class experience on and off the field. We will continue to monitor developments and implement all necessary public health measures going forward.”
The Monarchs will also be reaching out to many organizations that have helped the area on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, including hospitals, first responders, teachers, military service members and Unified Government Public Health Department for free ticket offers and discounts to upcoming games.
The new season marks a new day for the franchise in another way as well. According to Major League Baseball, it was back in January that the Kansas City T-Bones announced a rebrand, noting they would become known as the Monarchs, named after the same team that dominated the Negro Leagues from 1920-61.
The team is a member of the independent American Association of Professional Baseball.
The rebranding of the franchise is the result of an unprecedented collaboration with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, creating a sustainable, long-term revenue stream for the NLBM, a not-for-profit organization. The deal includes cross-promotion via a satellite Negro Leagues Baseball exhibit at the team's stadium, which has been newly dubbed Field of Legends.
A tweet from the account of the rebranded team noted,
“A brand that hasn’t had a home field since 1965, but on Opening Day of 2021, will take the field for the first time in those pinstripes as the Kansas City Monarchs. Home, at the Field of Legends, formerly T-Bones Stadium. Where we belong.”