COLUMBIA — The Columbia Fireflies will begin the 2021 season at 50 percent of normal seating capacity, with up to 5,000 fans allowed at Segra Park, the team announced April 6.
After losing their 2020 season to the cancellation of Minor League Baseball nationally, the Fireflies will welcome fans back May 11 with several new policies added for coronavirus safety.
The rule changes include keeping seats empty and using tables in some sections to socially distance groups of fans. Other parts of the main grandstand will have standard seating capacity, the club said.
The club said it expects fans to choose seating based on their own level of comfort.
Employees and spectators will be required to wear masks. The exception for fans is when they're actively eating or drinking in their seats, the team said.
No cash will be accepted by vendors or for parking. Fans who bring cash to the ballpark will be able to swap it for a gift card in the guest services office. The club plans to keep that policy even after the pandemic is officially over, the Fireflies said.
Fans will be able to use their phones to order food. People in premium seating can get food delivered to their seats, while others will get a notification when their order is ready for pickup.
The goal, the club said, is to reduce the time people spend standing in lines at concessions.
Game tickets will be issued on one-month intervals, leaving the club the possibility of issuing more tickets as the season goes on. Tickets for all May games will go on sale April 27.
This will be the first season for the Fireflies as an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, replacing Columbia's long affiliation with the New York Mets.
By comparison, University of South Carolina baseball has been operating this season at about 25 percent of the regular capacity, or a limit of about 2,100 fans. Announced attendance has been about 1,900 per home game.
The Gamecocks have been operating under a mask requirement and using only mobile ticketing, not paper tickets.
All seats at Founders Park in Columbia's Vista are being assigned in groups of two to four to keep groups of fans separate.
The Lexington County Blowfish, the local summer league team for college players, are selling tickets for a two-month regular season beginning May 26.
No limits on attendance have been announced, and a request for comment on the plans was not returned immediately.
The Lexington County Baseball Stadium has an announced capacity of 2,375.