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Here’s what Blue Jays fans need to know before returning to the Rogers Centre

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On Friday night, the Rogers Centre will be a hive of baseball activity for the first time in nearly two years.

The Blue Jays will make their long-awaited return and take on the Kansas City Royals in the opener of an 11-game homestand starting at 7:07 p.m. They held a closed-door summer training camp at their home park last year, but haven’t played in front of Toronto fans since Sept. 29, 2019 because of restrictions related to the pandemic.

Much has changed since then. For starters, star outfielder George Springer and ace left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu are among 14 players of the 25-man roster who have never suited up for the Jays at the Rogers Centre.

The fan experience will also be different, with local health and safety protocols still in place:

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  • While capacity for baseball is 49,286, only 15,000 seats per game will be available until the next stage of reopening. Seating will be limited to the 100 and 200 levels (infield), TD Clubhouse and executive suites, and physically distanced pods of up to four in the 100 and 200 levels (outfield and bases).
  • Face coverings (at least two layers) will be mandatory except when eating or drinking at your seat.
  • Fans are discouraged from taking bags to the game.

  • The roof will be open unless the weather’s bad. If it is, the lid will remain partially open and ventilation — air conditioning and open doors — will be increased.
  • Cashless payments only inside the ballpark.

Tickets for Friday’s game are sold out at Ticketmaster. At online resellers such as StubHub and Vivid Seats, prices ranged from $104 to a whopping $7,833 as of Thursday afternoon. There were still seats available on Ticketmaster for the other 10 games of the homestand, starting at $52.

The Jays’ first true home game in 670 days will also include:

  • A commemorative T-shirt and mask for each fan.
  • National anthems performed by Forte, Toronto’s Gay Men’s Chorus.
  • Complimentary seating (at each game of the homestand) for 250 front-line health-care workers, starting with staff from the intensive-care unit at Toronto General hospital.
  • A 50/50 draw with a minimum jackpot of $25,000.
  • Four Torontonians taking part in the ceremonial opening pitch: superfan Home Plate Lady, a member of the East York Baseball Association, a COVID-19 survivor and a TTC employee.

There will also be signs of Blue Jays support away from the ballpark:

  • Jays flags will be raised in Yellowknife, Fredericton and Banff, Alta.

TV coverage on Rogers Sportsnet starts at 6 p.m., about an hour before opening pitch.

On radio, Sportsnet 590 The FAN will return to a dedicated call of the game featuring Ben Wagner for the remaining 63 games on the schedule, instead of simulcasting the TV audio. The switch to simulcasts for this season was an unpopular one among loyal radio listeners.

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