The Atlanta Braves announced on Wednesday that they would allow 100 percent capacity crowds beginning May 7. The listed capacity of their home stadium, Truist Park, in suburban Atlanta is 41,084.
Atlanta will become the second team in Major League Baseball to allow full-capacity crowds at its stadium this season amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Rangers opened their stadium in Arlington, Texas, to a full capacity crowd for their home opener on April 5 — a decision President Biden called “a mistake” and “not responsible” earlier this month. In all, more than 38,000 fans filled the 40,300-seat stadium that day.
In Atlanta, the team began the season hosting crowds of 33 percent capacity and increased that to 50 percent for their late April homestead. Now, they are doubling that.
“We have had great success welcoming our fans back safely to Truist Park,” Derek Schiller, the president and chief executive of the team, said in a team-issued statement. “Our outdoor environment, the demand from our season ticket holders and fans to watch us play in person plus safety measures which are in place make it feel that now is the right time to get back to full capacity at Truist Park.”
The team will continue mandating that fans wear masks at the stadium when they’re not actively drinking or eating — although, earlier this month, that requirement was rarely enforced. The team also said vaccinations and temperature checks will not be required.
For fans who are uncomfortable going to a full-capacity stadium, the team said it would offer credits that can be used for future regular-season games. But there was a caveat: the team said those credits “will need to be redeemed before October 3, 2021.”
Team officials originally said they expected to welcome full-capacity crowds by June, a month before they were set to host the 2021 All-Star Game. But since then, M.L.B. Commissioner Rob Manfred relocated that game to Denver in response to new elections laws in Georgia that Democrats and civil rights groups said would disproportionately suppress turnout, particularly among people of color. The Braves vehemently opposed the relocation of the game and decried Manfred’s decision.
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidance on mask wearing for fully vaccinated people outdoors this week, it stressed that masks were still necessary in crowded outdoor venues like stadiums.
New virus cases are noticeably down in the United States, including in Georgia, but the state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Last month, new research submitted to The Lancet, a scientific journal, suggested that there was a link between N.F.L. games that had large numbers of fans in the stands and an increase in the number of infections in locales near the stadiums. N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league hopes to open all of its stadiums at full capacity when the 2021 season starts in September.
Elsewhere in the South on Wednesday, Louisiana State University said it would allow capacity crowds at outdoor sporting events beginning with a baseball game on Friday against the University of Arkansas. L.S.U. also said that it would no longer require spectators to wear masks at outdoor events and, crucially in a state with a cherished game day culture, that it would allow people to resume “normal tailgating activities” with no pandemic-related restrictions.
“This is another positive step for us as a campus and community,” said Scott Woodward, L.S.U.’s athletic director.
Alan Blinder contributed reporting.