Citi-Field’s “Vaccine Only” Seating

Citi-Fields Vaccine Only Seating

     In the past weeks, more and more of the U.S. has been reopened. The CDC allowed fully vaccinated people to partake in events without wearing masks or social distancing, Governor Cuomo announced that New York would be completely reopening schools, WHO has lowered its social distancing recommendation to 3 feet, even the BBC has recently reported on “Covid sniffing dogs” that are being used to help reopen airports and travel. No matter public opinions on vaccines or vaccine rollout, they’ve clearly been working in lowering case numbers. One of the newer and more interesting techniques of social distancing methods has been used not by public schools or major businesses, but rather by the popular baseball team, the New York Mets. 

     After receiving all necessary doses of the vaccine, New Yorkers are given an “Excelsior Pass” which is a simple document used to prove their vaccination. This allows them to go to restaurants, attend parties, hang out in groups, and partake in many other activities otherwise considered high-risk for COVID-19. Viewing sporting events was considered one of these activities, and is now safe for vaccinated people to do. The New York Mets have begun to allow higher numbers of vaccinated people into their stadium than they would non-vaccinated people, but in a rather curious way. The Mets have divided Citi-Field into “Vaccinated Sections” and “Non-Vaccinated Sections.” Those in the vaccinated sections are not required to wear masks when viewing the game and are not required to social distance while in these sections. Of course, they must still follow all COVID guidelines when touring the stadium, going to the bathroom, buying food, etc. Essentially, when in the vaccinated viewing sections, fans are not required to follow standard COVID guidelines, but are required to do so when anywhere else in the park.

    But where are these “special seats?” An initial concern of these sections is that vaccinated people will be given better seats than the non-vaccinated or will be charged higher prices. However, this is not the case. A variety of seat options are available for vaccinated Mets fans, offering vaccinated sections in the Promenade, Baseline Box, Excelsior Box, and in wheelchair-accessible areas. All of these seats cost vaccinated people the same amount as they would cost non-vaccinated people in a standard seating area. For those taking children to the games, anyone under 16 who is unvaccinated may sit in these sections with a guardian; meaning the whole family can return to America’s favorite pastime. 

     Though these vaccine sections may seem to be more effort than they’re worth, they actually do a lot of good for both the fans and the park. These seats do not have to be socially distant, meaning that more people can fit in the park at one time. It has been extremely difficult for baseball fans to get tickets to games due to limited seating, but now vaccinated fans will be able to attend games and purchase tickets easily. Additionally, Citi Field can begin earning back the income lost during the pandemic by selling more seats to vaccinated people. 

     Despite the obvious benefits of the vaccinated seating, there is still discourse around it. As with all activities being restricted to the vaccinated, many people claim that this is “discrimination” or “segregation.” However, even the governor explained that vaccinated and non-vaccinated people have the same opportunities to see games. “It’s not like you get the nosebleed seat because you’re unvaccinated and the vaccinated people get the better seats,” Cuomo said. “It doesn’t work that way.” As stated before, there are the same types of seating available for vaccinated as unvaccinated viewers. In fact, there are at least four socially distanced sections in every level in the park, usually more. 

     Though these regulations may seem like another COVID hoop to jump through, they are actually a sign of a return to pre-pandemic life. As the vaccinated population increases, these sections will become more irrelevant, and soon all people will be able to sit together in the field as the unvaccinated will be protected by herd immunity. For now, the vaccine-only sections allow the park to reopen and restabilize, and increase the number of people who can attend games. More people watching baseball is a good sign about the pandemic’s end, and watching baseball at all is just a good thing in general.