PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Sea Dogs are hitting the field in 2021 after their 2020 season was canceled. Opening day will be held on Tuesday, May 4.
When players finally take the field, 610 days will have passed between baseball games at Hadlock Field.
"We can't wait to get back to playing baseball! that's what we live to do," Sea Dogs Vice President of Communications Chris Cameron said.
While it will be the same game we all know and love, the fan experience will be different.
Seating capacity will be set at 28 percent or around 2,000 fans. That's significantly fewer people than what Vice President of Communications Chris Cameron says is peak summer turnout.
"In the summertime, June, July, and August, we're playing at 90 percent capacity almost every night, sometimes higher. We had 15 sellouts back in 2019. That’s over 7,300 fans in the ballpark," Cameron said. "So having only 2,000 is going to be considerably less, but we’re just happy to be playing baseball and welcoming any fans back to the ballpark at this point."
To increase social distancing among fans, the Sea Dogs are also turning to technology.
"We’re going to go mobile with a lot of stuff," Cameron said. "It's going to be all mobile ordering so when you're sitting in your seat, you place the order on your phone and then the food is delivered to you."
The Sea Dogs will also be enforcing social distancing in the stands by creating "pods." How it will work is two to eight people will be seated at one end of a row, and then another group of two to eight people will be seated at the other end of the row. The rows directly in front and behind that row will be empty. All the seats that are not in use will be locked.
Another change happening with the Sea Dogs this season is the sound of the game. The team has hired a new Director of Broadcast and play-by-play announcer, Emma Tiedemann.
Tiedemann is originally from Dallas, Texas, and is a life-long baseball fanatic.
"I'm just ready to call my first sea dogs game," Tiedemann said.
Tiedemann's first day in the office was in March 2020. That same day, all staff were told to go home because of the coronavirus.
"We had to work from home for three months and then our season was canceled so it was a very bizarre start to a job! I don't recommend it," Tiedemann joked.
More than a year later, she's eager to get started.
"Baseball such a unique sport. It’s so fun. There's so much strategy to it. And it gives fans the opportunity to have fun between innings and get to know Slugger and fall in love with having a hotdog or cold beverage on a warm night," says Tiedemann.
Tiedemann is one of just five women to hold that job in minor league baseball.
In other news, despite the Sea Dogs cutting ties with ice cream manufacturer Shain's of Maine last summer, the menu at Hadlock Field remains unchanged.
Cameron said, "I'm happy to report Sea Dogs biscuits will be back. We're going to have a new vendor and we're going to be announcing more details on that in the coming weeks."
Tickets to Sea Dogs games will be sold on a month-to-month basis, as officials hope game capacity will increase as the season progresses.