ROCHESTER, N.Y. – As some professional sports leagues eye the return of games with no fans, Rochester Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason says that’s not an option at Frontier Field.
The team, like the rest of the country, had a COVID-19 curveball thrown at them weeks before the home opener on April 9.
“To make it worthwhile for us to play at games at Frontier Field we would need some fans at the ballpark, because that’s how we generate our revenue,” said Mason referring to ticket sales, concessions, advertising and merchandise sales. “We don’t get that big chunk of TV revenue that the major leagues do.”
Some countries have already brought back sports with no fans in the stadiums, just the teams and umpires, but the infection rate of coronavirus is different in other counties or parts of the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo said that a plan to gradually reopen public places and business has guidelines to restrict crowds from forming. Cuomo said organizations have to get creative with how they can function by limiting contact, and brought up an option for fans to attend games virtually.
Mason said safety is the priority for fans and staff and one option could be to to limit the more than 13,000 fan capacity at the ballpark to meet social distancing guidelines. Mason think it would be beneficial for the team to have two to three weeks of spring training, and is open to have an extended season during the beginning of fall.
Monday was supposed to be the Red Wings’ 17th game of the 2020 season, a first of four game series in Columbus, Ohio. Players and coaches are still getting paid by the Minnesota Twins, but from now until September is when the Red Wings usually bring in the revenue needed to operate at lease one season. Mason said the organization is struggling just like everyone else right now, but players and coaches are at home hoping to return to Frontier Field in full uniform soon.
“Whenever Opening Day is, it will be an Opening Day like we’ve never had before,” emphasized Mason.
“Right now we’re kind of in a wait and see mode. Before we can do anything Major League Baseball has to set forth their plan to start their season and then they’ll let us know when they think we can start playing,” said Mason. “We won’t be able to do anything unless the municipalities, the state, the county, the city, and the CDC says it’s okay.”
The team started selling Red Wings face masks and t-shirts. Proceeds from the shirts benefit the United Way. The team is also helping to distribute Recipe 21 sanitizer. Pickup and curbside delivery are options.