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Minnesota sports fans can return to the stands soon

Minnesota's professional sports teams are preparing to welcome spectators under revised COVID restrictions unveiled Friday by Gov. Tim Walz.
Credit: KARE
Target Field sits empty in April 2020, in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MINNEAPOLIS — Sports fans will be able to catch a game in person again soon, as the state of Minnesota prepares to loosen its COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings at large venues.

In an announcement Friday, Gov. Tim Walz announced increased occupancy limits for indoor and outdoor entertainment venues starting March 15, with 50% capacity and a maximum of 250 people. 

However, starting April 1, larger venues with a normal operating capacity above 500 people can allow additional guests:

  • Seated outdoor venues: 25% of capacity over 500, 10,000 maximum
  • Non-seated outdoor venues: 15% of capacity over 500, 10,000 maximum
  • Seated indoor venues: 15% of capacity over 500, 3,000 maximum
  • Non-seated indoor venues: 10% of capacity of 500, 1,500 maximum

Minnesota Twins

The loosened restrictions come in time for the Minnesota Twins to welcome fans back to Target Field for their scheduled April 8 home opener against the Seattle Mariners, after playing the shortened 2020 season without fans.

“Today’s announcement represents a wonderful milestone, as we are beyond thrilled to safely welcome Major League Baseball’s best fans – our Twins fans – back into Target Field for the 2021 season,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said in a statement. “Simply put, the Twins are bringing our fans back to the ballpark because we know that it can, and will, be done in a safe manner. We thank Governor Tim Walz, Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Mayor Jacob Frey and our Target Field operations partners, including 3M, for their collaboration in developing a comprehensive health and safety plan for our guests that meets local, state and Major League Baseball requirements and directives.”

Under the state's upcoming guidelines, up to 10,000 fans will be allowed at Target Field in April. The team said season ticket holders will receive priority access to tickets each month, with the remaining inventory made available on a month-by-month basis.

In a news release, the Twins said several safety measures will be in place at the ballpark:

  • Contactless ticketing
  • No bags allowed
  • Face coverings required for guests age 2 and older
  • Seating in "pods" of 2 to 4 seats, with 6 feet of space in all directions between pods
  • Contactless concessions orders through the MLB Ballpark app
  • Hand sanitizer stations throughout the stadium

Minnesota Wild

The new state guidance will allow up to 3,000 fans inside Xcel Energy Center to watch the Minnesota Wild.

“We can’t wait to welcome more fans to watch Minnesota Wild games at Xcel Energy Center starting April 5,” Minnesota Wild President Matt Majka said in a statement. “Our organization has spent a tremendous amount of time and energy working in collaboration with Governor Walz and his staff, the Minnesota Department of Health as well as the other professional sports teams in town to make sure the protocols we have in place will allow our passionate fans the ability to watch Wild games in a safe and enjoyable manner. We have truly missed the energy and excitement our fans bring to Xcel Energy Center.”

The first game under the new capacity guidelines will be Monday, April 5 against the Colorado Avalanche.

Wild season ticket holders will be given priority for seating, with remaining single-game ticket availability noted on the Wild's website.

Minnesota Timberwolves & Lynx

The Minnesota Timberwolves will welcome fans back to Target Center starting Monday, April 5 against the Sacramento Kings.

“Timberwolves fans are the heartbeat of our organization and we can’t wait to welcome them back to Target Center,” Timberwolves and Lynx Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson said in a statement on the team's website. “We’ll continue to work closely with Governor Walz and his team, along with local health officials and the NBA to ensure the protocols are in place to safely bring back our loyal season ticket members and passionate fans beginning on April 5. As we take this exciting step, the health and safety of every single person will remain our top priority.”

According to the team, Wolves season ticket holders will receive a pair of complimentary tickets to a game in April, and have priority access to purchase tickets to additional games. Fans can also sign up for access to purchase single-game tickets.

Capacity limits could change again before the Minnesota Lynx tip off the WNBA season later this year.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings won't return to game action until late summer, but the team still applauded the fan capacity changes announced this week.

"We applaud Governor Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Health for their announcement to begin increasing fan capacity at all Minnesota professional sports venues," read a statement from the Vikings. "The return of in-person sporting events can not only help unite us as a community and bring hope to Minnesotans after such a challenging year, but it also can reanimate our downtowns and bring back thousands of visitors who support the critical hospitality industry. The Vikings top priority in 2021 is to safely welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium, and today’s news is a significant step toward our goal of hosting a full stadium this fall. We recognize, however, that in order to return to all the things we enjoy doing, including attending professional sporting events, we must see continued success with vaccinations. We encourage all Minnesotans to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible."

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