CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After more than a year and a half, RiverDogs baseball is set to return with a number of changes both on and off the field.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancelation of last year’s season, making Tuesday’s Opening Day extra special this year.
“This is what we live for, and so to be able to finally after almost a year and a half be able to open the gates and let everybody come in and just relax and enjoy a game on the Ashley with the breeze and the atmosphere that our team creates, it means the world,” RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols said.
Around 3,500 fans will be allowed at The Joe for Opening Day, roughly half of the usual crowd to begin the season. As the season progresses, the team hopes to be able to increase the number of fans.
Those who do attend games in person will notice a number of changes, some of which will be noticeable even before heading into the stadium.
First, ticketing has gone paperless this season so the team is asking fans to buy tickets on their phones. While cash is usually king, it’s not this season: concessions and other purchases are now cashless.
Additionally, fans should also plan to leave bags at home. The RiverDogs say the stadium is limiting bags allowed inside to diaper bags, medical bags and small clutches.
“Based on being able to open up, we had to institute some new protocols at the ballpark and some were mandated from Major League Baseball, some were working in collaboration with the city and our healthcare partners, but we feel we’ve got a situation in place where the fans should be able to come feel relaxed and comfortable and enjoy RiverDog games,” Echols said.
The changes continue on the field. After 16 years being affiliated with the New York Yankees, the RiverDogs are now back under the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
Echols said the Rays put a lot of effort into their farm system, so fans should expect to see a lot of young talent.
Tuesday’s game is set to begin at 7:05 p.m. and is the first in a six-game series against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.