116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – There were 1,200 fans right on the dot who attended Sunday afternoon’s Cedar Rapids Kernels-Beloit game at Veterans Memorial Stadium, enjoying sunny skies, baseball bingo and the great game itself.
Most all of them have been vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.
That’s the presumption, since the Kernels have relaxed their attendance policies. Beginning with this past Tuesday’s opener of this six-game series and moving forward, vaccinated fans are not required to wear a facemask at the stadium.
Only non-vaccinated fans must do so. Virtually everyone at the ballpark Sunday was without a mask, so ...
Of course, this is all on the honor system.
“We and MLB have been following the CDC from the beginning,” said Kernels General Manager Scott Wilson. “We know we can’t card people at the door and ask them those sorts of things. As difficult as that is, we just look for people that want to protect themselves that aren’t vaccinated to wear the masks to protect themselves and others.
“Those who are vaxxed now, according to the CDC, it’s (a) miniscule (chance) to be outside and to be able to be around folks (and get COVID). It’s not large crowds, we’re still social distancing. The seating capacity hasn’t changed or anything like that.”
The maximum capacity at the ballpark is around 2,100 fans, including 1,700 in the seating bowl. Sell-out status was attained Saturday night.
Major League Baseball is in charge of the minor leagues now, and is setting all of these protocols. For the Kernels’ first homestand of the High-Class A Central League season a couple of weeks ago, all fans attending games were required to wear masks everywhere in the stadium unless they were at their seats and eating or drinking.
As Wilson mentioned, the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention’s public advisement a week and a half ago that those vaccinated did not have to continue to wear masks in public has relaxed things when it comes to both major-league and minor-league ball.
All Kernels employees still are required to wear masks, including Wilson, one of only two people with the club allowed to go into the home and visiting team’s clubhouses. The other is the Kernels’ clubhouse manager.
They are called “covered employees.” Like every player and coach, Wilson is tested for COVID twice a week by MLB: on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The vast majority of the Kernels team is fully vaccinated, as is Wilson.
“The NCAA, when we host the Division III World Series, requires masks,” Wilson said, of the June 4-9 event at Veterans Memorial Stadium. “They have asked us to stay on par with everything they have. We took the bubble away from the field, but players still can’t interact. No meet and greets, no autographs, that kind of stuff. But the NCAA has asked us to use the wooden fence and plexiglass where we have it through the tournament.”
MLB mandated plexiglass be installed between the seating area and dugouts to begin this season. It also mandated the Kernels section off the lower part of the grass area down the left-field line and the lower part of the metal bleachers down the right-field line in order to keep players and fans separated.
The Kernels (8-10) lost four of six games in this series. Beloit (10-8) got two home runs from Nic Ready (son of former major leaguer Randy) and one from Griffin Conine (son of former big leaguer Jeff).
Seth Gray and Jair Camargo had homers for Cedar Rapids, which has Monday off and then hosts Wisconsin for six games, beginning Tuesday night at 6:35.
“I felt like we were in every one of these games,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “Just like last week in Quad Cities. We went 1-5, but we had chances to win, had leads late in games. I think it’s just growing and learning as a team. Hopefully as a team, we’re kind of turn it around and turn these Ls into some Ws.”
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