ARLINGTON, TX. (WRIC/ABC) — The Texas Rangers started off their season by filling their stadium, a move that drew concern from President Joe Biden.
According to ABC News, Globe Life Field in Arlington is the first Major League Baseball stadium to reopen at full capacity — roughly 40,000 seats — since the pandemic began. The move comes a month after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ended the state’s mask mandate and asked businesses to reopen fully, citing declining COVID-19 cases and vaccination numbers.
In a statement released on March 10, Neil Leibman, the team’s president of business operations, said the Rangers were encouraged by the governor’s orders and were taking measures to ensure fans were safe, including requiring masks, except for while eating.
Photos from the opening game show a packed stadium and many unmasked faces.
Following the home opener, the stadium will have sections that allow fans to watch with “distanced seating.”
“We will continue to monitor developments and implement the necessary public health measures,” Leibman said in a statement.
The Houston Astros, Texas’ other MLB team, will only be operating at 50% of Minute Maid Park’s roughly 41,000 seat capacity for April. The stadium will also require masks for fans when they’re not eating.
Biden weighed in on the Rangers’ plans during an interview with ESPN last week, calling the move “not responsible.”
“They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it’s not responsible,” the president said.
Biden warned about potential surges, citing the jumps in European nations that have reopened, and reiterated that vaccinations need to increase before businesses can reopen fully.
“We have to get to the point where enough people have taken the vaccine, so we diminish the possibility for it to spread,” he said.