Dragons ready for first full house of season

‘Things will be as normal as can be,’ at DayAir Ballpark.

The feel of a sellout crowd returns to Day Air Ballpark Tuesday night.

With no more COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Dayton Dragons can sell every seat again. Instead of about 30% capacity, three to four times as many fans will walk through gates when they open a six-game series against the Great Lakes Loons.

“Hopefully it will be like it used to be – good crowds, good ballgames,” said Tom Painter, who has been on the 17-game ticket plan for the past dozen years.

The Dragons are doing everything Major League Baseball will allow to create the same atmosphere as in the past. The between-innings entertainment involving fans will be more like it used to be, but MLB is maintaining a bubble around the players. That means the Green Team’s fun and games will be staged only on top the dugouts and the video board.

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“It’s going to be great,” said longtime fan Christy Antonelli. “I love to see the full stadium and have the Green Team out here and the mascots.”

Her husband, Tom Antonelli, said, “There are so many daytime distractions, you come to the ballgame afterwards it’s all gone. You watch the kids do the little races, just the whole atmosphere.”

As Eric Deutsch, the Dragons’ executive vice president said, “Things will be as normal as can be.”

The national anthem singers will be live on the field. If the Dragons don’t have a singer available, they will replay a previous anthem on the video board as they have been doing this season. The mascots, Heater and Gem, won’t be on the field, but they will be interacting with fans.

Group outings and single-game ticketing is available again. The suites, party decks and Dragons’ Lair are returning to full capacity from half capacity. But pricing will remain at the half-capacity rate for the rest of the season.

Fans with multiple-game ticket plans have been happy to learn that they are moving back to their regular seats. With social distancing, many fans had to be relocated to less desirable seats.

“I think it will be exciting because as season-ticket holders we haven’t gotten to see the normal people we sit around because we’ve been spread throughout the park,” Christy Antonelli said. “So it’ll be nice just to get back in regular seats and be around the same people we’re used to seeing.”

There will be pandemic reminders. The Plexiglass that has been installed around the ballpark will remain as will sanitizing stations. The park will remain cashless. All tickets are digital, and concessions will be touchless point-of-sale.

“This year I’ve missed a lot of the stuff that makes it minor-league ball,” Tom Antonelli said. “It’s still been great to come to a ballgame, but I’ve missed that in-between stuff and the full crowds. It’ll be back to normal.”

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