It’s been three years since the San Francisco Giants could host a home opener in what looks like a “normal” opening day at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.
With no fans able to attend in 2020 and with fewer than 8,000 fans clustered in pods for the 2021 opener, the Giants may welcome a full home at Oracle Park for Friday’s opener.
Shana Dam, Giants’ senior vice president of public affairs and community relations, told Bay Area Newsgroup that as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Giants have already sold more than 39,000 seats for the opener and more than 100,000 for the three-game run. Series against the Marlins.
For Friday’s opener, the Giants are still hoping to sell all 41,300 seats, but the excitement of the new season and the prediction of beautiful weather – a high of 67 – have left the Giants feeling optimistic.
“We hope to be sold by the first pitch,” said Dam.
The Giants didn’t have any fans — but they did have cardboard cutouts — in the stands for the 2020 home opener, though some are still set inside McCove Cove or on the portwalk facing the water.
The 2021 home opener welcomed fans inside Oracle Park, but with a limited capacity of 7,390 fans in a socially-distanced set-up. The Giants did not reopen the ballpark to full capacity until June 25, 2021, gradually increasing capacity as guidelines for proper distance changed and vaccination rates increased.
But even when the Giants won a franchise-record 107 and held the Dodgers to the NL West Crown, fans still didn’t return at the same rate they once did. The Giants only sold three regular-season games in all of 2021: the final two home games against the Dodgers – Saturday, September 4 and Sunday, September 5 – and the second-to-last game of the season on Saturday, October 2.
Yep, even the final game of the regular season, when the Giants scored their 107th win and clinched the NL West, wasn’t a sell. Over 4,000 seats were open as 36,901 tickets were sold.
The Giants sold all three home games against the Dodgers in the NLDS and their entire allocation of standing-room-only tickets for Games 2 and 5.
Even after that remarkable season, Giants fans had little reason to be excited as the team’s marquee takeover was Carlos Rodón, an impressive but oft-injured pitcher who spent two years, $44 million. The contract was signed.
Franchise legend Buster Posey retired and by trade deadline takeover Kris Bryant left the Giants without making a big move to replace them aggressively.
Major League Baseball also laid off its players as they negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), a 99-day affair that forced the first week of the regular season to be rescheduled. The postponement is because the Giants are starting their season at home for the first time since 2009, a change that Daum said affects how the Giants typically market their home opener.
“Usually, we don’t open at home, we’re on the street,” Daum said. “So you have a whole week to campaign at your game and with your fans that ‘Opening Day is coming, get your tickets.’ And we don’t have that because we don’t have games yet.
“Coming Out of the Pandemic” [and] CBA, we think we’re in a really good place and we’re really strong over the weekend. ,
If they don’t get a sellout, this will be the first home opener fans can join in that the Giants are not sold on the corner of third and King. The last time the Giants didn’t sell their first home game was in 1997 at Candlestick Park, finishing in fourth place.
But that 1997 team conquered the NL West, just as construction began on the ballpark they call home today. And for most of the first two decades, life was really good at 24 Willie Mays Plaza.
The then-AT&T park was officially sold for 530 consecutive regular-season games from the final weekend of the 2010 season to July 18, 2017. Those years included three World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, as well as a fourth trip. Playoff in 2016.
The slowdown on the field that began in 2017 was reflected in attendance numbers for the next few years, and although the average number of fans per home game in 2017 remained above 40,000 (40,768), it fell to 38,965 in 2018 and 33,429 in 2019 – And at zero in 2020, for reasons beyond the team’s control.
The Giants are hoping that the resurgence on the field will be reflected in the 2021 season stands, and season ticket sales have sold nearly 15,000 full season tickets this offseason, per Doom.
The prospect of a sanctions-free season – and a packed home for the opener – excites many inside the organization.
“I think everyone is, right? We are as an organization, we have employees, we have fans, we are neighbourhoods,” Daum said. “It is good to be back, to some extent, to a normalcy – That we can enter the season, start the season, certainly in a much more traditional way than we’ve been doing for years.”