St. Louis Cardinals: Are the Blues clearing the way for fan attendance?
By Matt Graves
Fan attendance is a hot topic for the 2021 season when it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals. Thankfully, the team down the street is helping.
Multiple times this winter, the upper brass of the St. Louis Cardinals has talked about the multiple plans they have for what the financials of the 2021 season will look like. The biggest factor still up in the air for the hometown team is fan attendance.
The Cardinals are one of the only mid-market teams that consistently sit in the top 10-12 teams in payroll each year. Whether or not they have spent that money wisely recently, there is no room to stand on to argue that they don’t spend. Throughout the years, the only way that they have been able to do that consistently is because of fan attendance.
Naturally, after a year where the one thing that allowed the Cardinals to financially overachieve is gone, they are cutting back spending. However, getting as many fans back in the stands as quickly as possible is the best way to revert the cutbacks the Cardinals have been forced to make.
While there has been nothing specific announced from the MLB about fan attendance yet, looking at other professional leagues could serve as a good predictor if the Cardinals will have fans in the stands three months from now (assuming that the season starts on time).
On Monday, the Blues announced that they would be inviting frontline workers in for the first game, signaling hope for the future.
The NHL is not in the same predicament as the MLB because of their ability to still play the majority of their 2019-2020 season with fans. However, they will soon see larger effects if fan attendance around the league doesn’t resume.
Things may be different in other cities, but watching the way the city of St. Louis approaches the Blues will likely be a great indicator of what will happen with the Cardinals.
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This is a small step, but when the Blues have their first game, there will be fans in the stands, even if it is fewer than 300. As the announcement says, the first group of fans will include frontline workers (I’m assuming they aren’t paying for their tickets) along with cutouts for anyone else to purchase.
This is just the beginning though, as the Blues already have guidelines posted for what fans will need to do when they are allowed in. The NHL is not issuing a blanket policy for fan attendance for the season which starts Wednesday, instead leaving the decision to each city.
The current city recommendation is to keep gatherings below 300 people. If that is where things are now, there is hope that if vaccinations continue to go out and COVID-19 improves, things could be significantly better in three months when baseball is supposed to start.
Not only would getting fans back in the stands help the financials for the Cardinals, but it would also do a ton to make Busch Stadium feel like home again. The NFL games over the weekend almost felt foreign with real crowd noise coming through the broadcast.
This is a situation that will be closely monitored, but it is best for the Cardinals, the MLB, and fans far and wide that the season starts with fans in attendance. It’s early, but this is good news and a great move by the Blues to thank those who have worked so hard over the past 10 months.