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Mariners welcome fans back into T-Mobile Park for opening day

Fans are chomping at the bit to get back in the park and watch a game.

SEATTLE — For the Villalpando family from Tacoma, a year without being able to go to a baseball game was tough. 

"It was hard," said mom Jordan. 

She is a die-hard Mariners fan, and her husband, Michael, is a life-long Giants fan. Their kids, ages two and one, are too little to choose, so they wear gear from both teams. 

The Villalpando family was able to secure tickets for all four of them for opening day. They said they couldn't be happier. 

"We're excited for live sports that we can attend because we're big sports fans. We are excited to see the Mariners. We're excited to take [our kids] to get them to experience the ballpark," she said.

T-Mobile Park, which has been preparing for the Seattle Mariners opening day, is ready to welcome fans back.

"It's been 542 days since we've had a fan at T-Mobile Park, so we are thrilled," said Malcom Rogel last week, the vice president of ticket and event services with the team. 

While the park will be open for business, things will look different than they did during the 2019 season. The biggest change is the crowd size and how fans will be seated.

Only 9,000 people will be allowed in the park and they must be sitting in a "pod." 

A pod is a group of seats. Each pod will be distanced from other pods.

You can buy tickets in set groups of one to six, so whether you're taking yourself out to the ballpark or you're taking the entire quarantine squad, you will be distanced from anyone else. 

"You have to buy the entire pod, so you can't buy two of the four, so it's a pretty slick set-up," said Rogel. 

Also, the days of trying to move up seats are over. The seats that aren't in pods are zip-tied. 

Another difference — no paper tickets. Fans will use machines at the park to scan their digital tickets on their phones. 

Refreshments will be prepacked, social distancing reminders will be up, and yes, there will be hand sanitizer available.

"It will be a different experience, but I wouldn't say a bad experience at all. A very safe, different experience," Rogel said.