NORFOLK (WAVY) – Joe Gregory said the last year and a half has been the longest offseason he’s ever had. Along with every other baseball fan in Hampton Roads, the general manager of the Norfolk Tides last saw his club play in September of 2019.
After almost a year and a half off, the Tides are set to make their return to the field in a little under three weeks.
“As nerve-racking as it may be, it’s still exciting to get people back in the ball park and back to baseball,” said Gregory. The Tides were forced to cancel last season due to COVID-19.
The Triple-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles will begin their 120-game season in Jacksonville on May 4, and then play their home-opener against the same Jacksonville team on May 18.
However, because of the state and federal guidelines regarding large gatherings, Harbor Park will only be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity for the season. Gregory feels even that number may be hard to achieve, given MLB has directed its ball parks to socially distance fans by 10 feet, rather than by six feet.
In addition, fans will not be allowed within 12 feet of either the home or visiting team’s dugout.
“The experience is going to be different,” said Gregory.
But it’s still a chance for baseball to return to Norfolk.