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The Somerset Patriots are ready to welcome fans back to TD Bank Ballpark at 100 percent capacity on Friday, May 28 just days after Governor Phil Murphy lifted most indoor and outdoor mask mandates and six-foot social distancing.

“We are very excited about the opportunity to fully open the ballpark for our fans and thank Governor Murphy and his administration for this decision,” team President and General Manager Patrick McVerry said in a press release. “Like a lot of people, we’ve waited for this day for a long time. Since the news came down that we were joining the Yankees family, we wanted to be able to welcome all the people that were unbelievably excited to come out and see New York’s future stars here.  It will be great to be able to finally see packed ballparks with families and our entire community together again.”

The Patriots, who are the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have been operating at around 25 percent capacity to start the season, which is about 1600 people.  McVerry told WCTC in a Zoom call that he and his staff are excited to welcome back more fans, but acknowledged there will be a slight transition.

“You will have a safe environment. We will have sanitizing solution stations, plexiglass will be up and masks are still optional at the ballpark; so if you are not 100 percent comfortable then put it on,” McVerry said.  “We loaded up our staff and hired additional folks to work our concessions and events in the anticipation this day was coming; we are ready to go.”

McVerry added the Patriots will not monitor vaccination cards due to the heavy volume of attendees, however he stressed that fans can wear masks if they should choose, and those unvaccinated should wear masks.  “It’s hard to do when you are talking about 5,000 people coming in,” McVerry said on checking vaccine cards. “ We won’t be checking for cards, it’s not something we can handle.  This is a big ballpark, you have the ability to move around.”

While masks are optional for sitting outside in the stands, masks will still be required for indoor spaces at the ballpark including the Team Store, restrooms, and the ticket office lobby until the Friday, May 28 game.

Fans attending games can expect a cashless environment at all food stations and the team store. Fans can also take advantage of the Fan Food app to avoid standing in line by ordering from their seat.  A text message will be sent to let them know that their food is ready to pick up.  Tickets are also paperless, and season ticket holders will have their tickets scanned on a card.

McVerry said the fans he’s spoken to are excited to return. “It’s been overwhelmingly positive from fans and phone calls, and ticket sales in general.  People are ready; they are ready to come back. We are thrilled to be an affiliate of the Yankees and we have seen a wave of interest in season tickets earlier this past off-season.”

All tickets that were purchased for May 28 through June 20 are still valid in their current seat location. Starting July 6, all season ticket holders will be moved back to their originally reserved location.