Rangers vs. Blue Jays has largest crowd at U.S. sporting event during pandemic

Marcus Semien talked about playing in front of a packed house as the Blue Jays got a win over the Texas Rangers.

The Texas Rangers' home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays became the first professional sporting event in the United States to have a near-capacity crowd since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

The Rangers made every seat at Globe Life Field available for two pre-season games and the home opener vs. the Blue Jays. The crowd of 38,238 which was announced as a sellout, was more than the 31,700 fans the Dallas Cowboys hosted back on Nov. 8 against the Pittsburgh Steelers at AT &T Stadium. For Super Bowl 55 on Feb. 7, approximately 25,000 fans were in attendance at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to watch the Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs.

The $1.2-billion ballpark opened in 2020 and hosted fans for the NLCS and World Series at 28 per cent capacity. The Rangers only intend on selling out the stadium for the home opener, with plans in place to create "distanced seating" sections for the other home games in the early part of the season.

Though there has been no state-wide mask mandate in Texas since March 10, the Rangers said fans in attendance would be required to wear them inside the stadium except when eating and drinking in their seats. On videos posted to social media, however, large swaths of the crowd could be seen maskless.

Plexiglass has been installed behind both dugouts and bullpens, at the recommendation of Major League Baseball, to help protect players from possible exposure to the virus.

U.S. President Joe Biden said back on April 1 that the Rangers were making "a mistake" by hosting a full capacity crowd.

"Well, that's a decision they made. I think it's a mistake," Biden said in an interview with ESPN. "They should listen to Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the scientists and the experts. But I think it's not responsible."

Among the attendees at Monday's home opener was former U.S. President George W. Bush, who was reportedly sitting in a suite with Craig Biggio, the former MLB star who is also the father of current Blue Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio.

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