Welcome to Opening Day. Chances are, there’s good seats available in your area.
Major League Baseball’s 99-day lockout has been settled for less than a month and the game’s 30 franchises have had less time than that to recast a handful of otherwise unremarkable April games as Opening Day. While a 162-game season has been salvaged, a majority of teams saw their home openers between March 31-April 6 pushed back by days or even weeks.
And whether the fervor of a full crowd greets the home team likely has to do with whether they had to move their original opener – or are in contention mode in 2022.
Of the seven openers on Thursday, just two – Astros-Angels at Anaheim and Pirates-Cardinals at St. Louis – are sold out. The Atlanta Braves, the defending World Series champions, have standing room only tickets available for both Thursday’s opener and Friday and Saturday’s games against Cincinnati.
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Uncoincidentally, all three of those games were regularly scheduled home openers, and benefited from significant single-game sales and promotion before the lockout ended.
Every where else? Well, as of 24 hours before first pitch it was still possible to walk up and buy a ticket. Thursday’s Cubs-Brewers opener at Wrigley Field was near capacity, albeit with hundreds of tickets still remaining. Nationals-Mets in Washington still offered thousands of available tickets in roughly 95 of 100 sections, and the upper sections of Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City featured thousands of available seats.
None were as plentiful as Arizona, though, where you could plop down tickets for a party of 30 for Thursday’s game against San Diego. The Diamondbacks were hit particularly hard by fan attrition among teams opening up following the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2022 squad features few additions to a 111-loss squad to inspire confidence. Despite it being a regularly scheduled home opener, the Diamondbacks had by far the softest ticket market for their opener.
The weather also hasn’t cooperated, with rainy conditions already booting the Red Sox-Yankees opener in the Bronx and the Twins’ game against Seattle to Friday. Fortunately for all teams involved, those games were regularly scheduled home openers and will utilize Friday rain dates to get the games in – though that still didn’t guarantee a full house.
As of Wednesday night, Minnesota has sold 35,000 tickets at 39,500-seat Target Field, while hundreds of tickets remained for the Red Sox-Yankees tilt.
Another sign this is an Opening Day like no other: Quiet streets in Cincinnati. For just the second time in a history that dates to 1871, the Reds will not open at home and yes, the first instance was also the result of a lockout, in 1990.
Instead, the Reds won’t open until April 12 against the Cleveland Guardians, and the club emailed ticketbuyers this week noting that a “limited number of tickets” are now available.
Days later, the allotment was sold out, showing a delayed Opening Day is certainly better than none at all.