After navigating a 60-game shortened season in 2020 during which in-person attendance was not allowed in any significant way at Target Field, the Twins are dipping their toes into 2021 with hopes of being allowed to have roughly 10,000 fans in the stands for their home opener on April 8 — and more as the season goes on as long as COVID-19 numbers improve and the vaccine rollout continues to progress.
The Star Tribune's Rochelle Olson wrote about the team's proposal, which has been sent to Gov. Tim Walz. And she joined me as a guest on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.
If you don't see the podcast player, click here.
Walz has spoken with cautious optimism about being able to attend a Twins game this season, but there seems to be at least a bit of a gap between the team's hope for 10,000 fans and the messaging from his office — at least at this point. From Olson's story:
"Governor Walz is eager to get back to Target Field," said spokesman Teddy Tschann. "If Minnesotans continue to work hard to keep the virus under control while vaccinations ramp up, we're optimistic we can get fans back in the stands in some capacity this season."
That issue won't be solved today, but it probably needs to be sorted out within the next few weeks to allow the Twins to finalize plans and prepare Target Field for any return to in-person attendance.
A larger question that looms over all sports, though, is this: Even if that many fans are allowed at a game — even an outdoor venue like Target Field — will fans want to come back right away?
A Twitter query produced a pretty even split; some people replied to my question with an enthusiastic yes.
Others — and this is the camp I fall into — are waiting until they are vaccinated before they will consider in-person attendance at Target Field.
Perhaps the most nuanced answer was this one:
The push-pull between a return to "normalcy" and the continuing effects of a virus that is still sickening hundreds of Minnesotans and killing some of them almost every day is not limited to sports, but it will be a highly visible way in which that notion plays out during this phase of the pandemic.
One particularly interesting thing: Olson said the Twins have talked openly about having Target Field at full capacity by the end of the season.
That sure sounds nice, and I hope we are smart enough to get there.