LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster Barnstormers home opener is Friday. They’ll be facing off against the York Revolution.
Like the Revolution and the Harrisburg Senators, the Barnstormers’ 2020 season was canceled, making this year all that more exciting.
“We are super excited to have fans back in the stadium,” Michael Reynolds, the general manager of the Barnstormers and Clipper Magazine Stadium, said. “We are super excited to start our 16th Atlantic League season.”
It’s been more than 600 days since a game of baseball has been played at Clipper Magazine Stadium, but the space has been far from empty.
Once COVID hit, the facility was transformed into a testing site and then a place to give and to get food and personal protective equipment.
The stadium also became a community center where people could spend time with one another from a distance.
“During the time when we couldn’t have baseball, we were able to get a ton of people through the gates here just to enjoy some safe, comfortable events, whether it be movie nights…we hosted proms, graduations,” Reynolds said.
Now that America’s favorite pastime is back, the Barnstormers will be celebrating their 2020 win for best ballpark for independent leagues.
They’ll also be honoring health care heroes at their home opener.
“Get some first pitches,” Reynolds said. “Get them recognized on the field.”
The stadium will operate at full capacity and has gone cashless. It is offering lawn seating among other options to keep fans comfortable.
“We have kept two sections open for socially distant seating, so there’s the pod seating.”
Tom Baldrige, the president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber, says getting baseball back is one more sign we’re getting through the pandemic and one more reason to celebrate.
“When your community has a baseball team, there’s kind of a great unifying aspect to it,” Baldrige said.
Neighboring restaurants and businesses already hit hard by COVID missed the thousands of Barnstormers fans.
They’re looking forward to a boost in foot traffic.
“To continue to scratch that itch to get out,” Baldrige said. “It’s an extremely walkable community. You can be at the Barnstormers and you can be at a number of venues, depending on your tastes and desires, within minutes.”
“There are plenty of businesses that have been impacted over the last 15 months. We are one of them,” Reynolds said. “We’ve done our best to try and get back. We’re hoping everyone can come to at least one Barnstormers game to help support us.”
First pitch is at 6:30 p.m.
Stay tuned for abc27 sports coverage of the game.