Calif. to allow some fans in parks for MLB Opening Day
Ballparks like San Diego's Petco Park will allow some fans this season. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

This is not a drill, nor a holiday prank. The state of California is opening up its outdoor venues, including ballparks, stadiums and amusement parks on MLB Opening Day, exclusively to its residents.

The news signals continued progress toward normalcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are other restrictions beyond only California residents being able to attend starting on April 1.

Ashley Zavala of Fox 40 reported the news of California’s decision to relax restrictions on these massive public gathering spots, and included the other stipulations spelled out by the Department of Health:

California’s outdoor stadiums are going to be open in time for the 2021 pro baseball season — right on the exact date for MLB Opening Day.

That’s great news for Major League Baseball and for all the fans of America’s pastime in the Golden State, because an entire sixth of the league is based there.

While not every California club will get to have a home game on MLB Opening Day, there are enough that will host that this landmark decision will make for a much more eventful and fan-filled experience than it was expected to be.

MLB Opening Day in California features Padres, Angels and A’s

The reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers won’t be one of the five California teams to be at home for MLB Opening Day, as they’ll instead begin their defense of the Commissioner’s Trophy against the Colorado Rockies in Denver.

San Francisco will have to wait to welcome the Giants back to Oracle Park, as they begin 2021 on the road versus the Seattle Mariners.

However, the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres will be the three lucky teams to be playing in front of friendly fans for their respective openers.

San Diego opens the California MLB Opening Day home slate against the Arizona Diamondbacks at 4:10 p.m. ET. That’s followed by the Angels’ 10:05 p.m. matchup against the Chicago White Sox, and shortly thereafter the A’s get underway in taking on the Houston Astros.

There’s no shortage of narratives for the California teams as the new MLB season gets underway. Perhaps most noteworthy is how aggressively the Padres are trying to challenge the Dodgers for National League West supremacy — not to mention a world championship.

Fernando Tatis Jr. got rewarded with an absolutely incredible contract extension this offseason, signing on for a 14-year, $340 million deal. He’s emerging as arguably the biggest star in the sport, and if he lives up to that billing, it may not be long before the Padres are winning the World Series. After all, they earned the moniker Slam Diego last season due to their power-hitting prowess, with Tatis serving as the chief catalyst.

Tatis will lead San Diego into its next era alongside fellow superstar Manny Machado, but toppling the Dodgers won’t be an easy task. The champs got better by signing reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer in free agency.

The A’s are always a fun club to follow due to their knack for maximizing a minimalist payroll. San Francisco is still trying to find its stride amid a four-year playoff drought, and the Angels will likely do anything to contend at this point before Mike Trout’s prime goes to waste.

However the action plays out on the diamond, though, at least fans can begin to take trips back to the ballpark as live sports continue working toward fuller capacity.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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