- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Braves and Atlanta United will return their seating capacities to pre-pandemic levels next month, the MLB and MLS teams announced Wednesday.

Both teams were previously allowing 50% capacity. But the Braves’ Truist Park will return to its roughly 41,000 capacity, starting May 7 against the Philadelphia Phillies. Atlanta United will open Mercedes-Benz Stadium to its usual soccer configuration, which allows fans in the lower two levels of the stadium — about 42,500 seats — starting May 15 against Montreal.

The Braves and Atlanta United referenced the increased vaccinations in the region as why the decision was made to up the capacity once more.

“We have had great success welcoming our fans back safely to Truist Park,” Derek Schiller, President and CEO of the Atlanta Braves, said in a statement. “Our outdoor environment, the demand from our season ticket holders and fans to watch us play in person plus safety measures which are in place make it feel that now is the right time to get back to full capacity at Truist Park.”

At both stadiums, facemasks will still be required unless actively eating or drinking while seated. The increased health and safety measures — such as enhanced sanitization efforts — will also remain.

AMB Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of Atlanta United and the Falcons, said the Falcons plan to begin the NFL season at full capacity, too.

“We are excited to bring our fans back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Steve Cannon, CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement. “Given the increased opportunity for Georgians to be vaccinated, the abundant health protocols we have in place at the stadium and the interest from our season ticket members, we felt that now is the right time to re-open the stadium in full capacity allowing all our season ticket members a chance to enjoy watching their teams in person.  We will continue to follow the necessary precautions to give fans a safe and clean environment.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp approved of the Braves’ and Atlanta United’s plans to open their stadiums at full capacity, tweeting: “Great to see the @Braves and @ATLUTD stadiums fully opening soon!”

The Braves will join the Texas Rangers as the only MLB teams allowing full capacity at their stadiums. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said Tuesday that August 1 is the state’s target date to remove capacity restrictions at large venues, potentially opening the door for full crowds at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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