Tigers' Opening Day fan cap is 1,000; decision on who gets in coming soon

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Most years, even the down years, scoring Tigers Opening Day tickets is like winning the lottery.

This year, with all the COVID-19 uncertainty, tickets have been more accessible since they went on sale back earlier in the winter. The luck element, this time, will be if you get to actually use the tickets you purchased.

When the regular season starts four weeks from Thursday, only 1,000 fans will be allowed at Comerica Park when the Tigers welcome the Cleveland Indians for Opening Day in Detroit. That number was announced in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's latest health order Monday, and confirmed by the Tigers.

Paws plays with some of the cutout fans during a game at Comerica Park last season.

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There had been some initial confusion whether that number would be 750 or 1,000, and whether that figure would include ballpark personnel like players and coaches. The Tigers say it's 1,000 fans. That's less than 3% of Comerica Park's official capacity.

Of course, the Tigers already have sold well more than 1,000 Opening Day tickets — they even held a New Year's flash sale with Opening Day tickets going for as little as $19 — so they'll have some decisions to make in the coming weeks on who gets to use those tickets, and who doesn't. A Tigers spokesman said it's an ever-evolving process, and there will be more definitive information in the coming days.

This much is certain: Priority will be given to season-ticket holders over the general public, but even with that, there will be hard choices. The Tigers, even while rebuilding, have more than 1,000 season-ticket holders.

Officially, when asked about the situation, the Tigers released the following statement, attributed to Olympia Entertainment: "We are pleased that restrictions on events are beginning to lift with the reduction in COVID cases. We will continue to work closely with state and local officials, public health and medical experts and the leagues to provide our fans with a safe and enjoyable experience. We look forward to when additional fans will have the opportunity to return to our venues.”

The Red Wings and Pistons soon can increase their attendance to 750 at Little Caesars Arena, under the latest state order.

The state order goes into effect Friday and runs through mid-April, and as the Major League Baseball season goes along, more and more fans are expected to be allowed at Tigers games. The Tigers played a shortened, 58-game season in 2020, with no fans allowed at Comerica Park.

Michigan lags behind some fellow Midwest states in terms of fans allowed. Ohio is allowing the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians to have up to 30% capacity, and Philadelphia is allowing the Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates up to 20% capacity. The Milwaukee Brewers are asking the state for 35% (the stadium roof has to be open), and the Minnesota Twins are asking the state for up to 10,000 fans a game. Illinois hasn't made a decision yet.

When the Tigers do open the Comerica Park gates next month, fans can expect many changes, including social-distancing and cashless concessions. Face coverings will be required at all times except when eating or drinking.

The Tigers are allowing up to 2,000 fans for home spring-training games in Lakeland, Florida. The entire 15-game home spring schedule sold out in less than three hours last month.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984

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