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Dodgers star says fans’ return to the stadium is “huge”

▶ Watch Video: Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw on playing with fans in the stands again, World Series win

The diminishing coronavirus threat is allowing Americans to return to their favorite places, including baseball parks. Dodger Stadium played a key role in Los Angeles’ fight against COVID-19 — it was one of California’s largest vaccination centers.

Fans are excited to see the Dodgers defend their World Series title in person after being forced to watch last year’s action on TV. Baseball superstar and three-time CY Young award winner Clayton Kershaw told CBS News’ Vladimir Duthiers that he is excited to play in front of crowds again.

“Oh, it’s huge. Last year, honestly, we were just thankful that we got to play a season, you know. And so this year to have fans back, and progressively getting closer to a full stadium, it feels like normal,” Kershaw said.

But when Americans head to the ballpark, they’ll notice a few changes. Anybody over the age of two who enters certain venues, like Dodger Stadium, has to wear a face mask unless eating or drinking. Across all Major League Baseball parks, tickets are digital and scanned when entering the stadium.

Last season the only fans in attendance during regular season games were cardboard cutouts. Now fans are back in the seats, though how many are allowed varies from park to park. For example, Dodger Stadium can hold up to 56,000 people, but only about 15,000 are permitted.

Fans will be seated in physically distanced pods of two to six people, with unused seats closed off. But if you’re fully vaccinated, some teams, like the Dodgers, will let you sit in specially reserved sections where social distancing is not required, but a mask is.

“The crowd brings so much energy, so much of the atmosphere of a baseball game that is brought by the fans. We have fully vaccinated sections now, which is cool,” Kershaw said. “I think the crowds feel safe with whatever the protocols may be. And I know as players that anything that they can do just to be in the stands is huge for us.”

One thing that is back to normal food — vendors hawking peanuts and beer. Fans at some parks can walk up to any concession stand and pick up a hot dog or other food items where all purchases are cashless and contactless.

In 2020, the Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays to become World Series champions. Kershaw, who proudly wears his ring, said that he feels winning the championship brought a “sense of joy to a really tough time.”

“That’s the cool thing about the Dodgers. It runs through families. It runs through generations of families, the traditions that they have,” he said. “And that’s what’s really fun to be in L.A. and get to see. And after 32 years to finally win the World Series and get to see the reactions of the fans. I mean, that’s what hit home to me.”



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