• Brian L. Barefield

Welcome Home: Astros Set To Play First Game In Front Of Fans At Minute Maid Park Since 2019.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

There is a large conglomerate of Houston Astros fans that believe if they would have had a chance to be in attendance last year that the team would have had a better regular season record which in turn would have won them their fourth consecutive American League West Division title and given them the last at bat in the A.L. Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays with an opportunity to go back to the World Series for the third time in four years.

Unfortunately, that was not the case as the Astros played in an empty Minute Maid Park during the shortened 2020 MLB season due to COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the league to help ensure the safety of the players, coaching staff, and members of the organization.

As Houston prepares for its home opener against the Oakland A’s, they will be greeted by some familiar faces as fans are allowed back into Major League stadiums this season. Minute Maid Park will allow 50 percent capacity to be met in the month of April and will reevaluate more options before the next month begins.

Photo Credit/Houston Astros

“We are asking for our fans to be respectful of the other people sitting beside them,” said Anita Sehgal, the Astros’ senior vice president for marketing and communications. “Fans will notice that we’ve put a lot of extra details into making them feel welcome and feel safe. There will be hand sanitizing stations everywhere, there will be reverse ATMs, there will be all kinds of upgrades to the restrooms, so they don’t have to touch things.”

The Astros opened up the 2021 season on the road playing their first six games against the A’s and Los Angeles Angels. They finished with a 5-1 record which is the best record in the American League and tied for first overall in the MLB. Thursday’s game will also mark the return of fans to an Astros game at Minute Maid Park for the first time since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

“It’s going to be surreal to be once again in front of our fans and our home crowd,” said veteran shortstop Carlos Correa after his game winning homerun in the final game of the West Coast trip. “We missed them. Last year was not the same without them. Going out there to Minute Maid once again with fans cheering after every play, after every single run, after every home run is going to be pretty unbelievable. It’s going to be like my first time when I made my Major League debut, so I am looking forward to it.”

First Pitch is 7:10 p.m. CT. RHP Cristian Javier will be on the mound for the Astros while the A’s will start LHP Cole Irvin.

All fans will be required to have on their masks when not eating or drinking.

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