KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time in more than a year, Kansas City Royals fans were at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday night.
Last year’s home opener was less eventful with cardboard cutouts in the stands instead of fans because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, fans came from near and far to celebrate the new season, bringing back traditions they were forced to skip in 2020.
Jillian Beyer, a Kansas City native, traveled from Los Angeles to visit her father for their 20th home opener.
“It was hard to see, you know, you can’t do traditions, but it’s really fulfilling when you can do them,” Beyer said. “You know, we have to stay safe, so it’s worth the sacrifice.”
For some, this year is even more special in person.
“Really just being back inside the stadium, not sitting at home on the couch,” Matt Kruger said. “It’ll be nice to be out. It’s a beautiful day to watch baseball with other people.”
Last year, the Royals announced no fans would be allowed inside the K. This year, the team is limiting capacity to 10,000 fans that will be in seating pods with masks required.
“The people that are here today are the people who missed baseball all last year and took an extra step just to be here, and that’s going to make a difference,” Royals fan Alec Ryder said.
Even though fans are ‘Always Royal,’ many said they prefer the action in person and saw this game as a sign that we’re nearing the end of the pandemic.
“It just felt like wow, we were missing a big part of what we were as a society. To be able to come out today, it feels good like to kind of get back towards normal,” fan Marcel Taylor said.
The Royals have limited the fan capacity for April games, but there’s a chance it could change based on guidance from local health departments.