GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Governor Whitmer’s newest Executive Order announcement on Tuesday affects both the Griffins and Whitecaps.
The Griffins are allowed to go from 500 to 750 fans starting March 5 since their arena hosts more than 10,000 fans under normal circumstances.
Team President Tim Gortsema said while they are grateful for the increase, he wishes they would be under the same rules as most other businesses.
“We’re at 50% for restaurants, we’re at 50% for retail, we’re at 30% for gym, we’re at 30% for casinos, we’re at sub 7% for Griffins hockey, so that’s a little disappointing," Gortsema said. "I’m not sure how or why we keep being stuck on a static number for arenas and sports teams when everything else is a percentage of capacity.”
Gortsema said the team started off slow with only family and friends at their first two home games this season and they were in the process of ramping up to the allowed 500 fans for their next game before Tuesday’s announcement allowed them more.
He says they will circle back with season ticket holders now that they can sell up to 750 tickets, and whatever is left after that will be available to the general public.
Tuesday’s announcement by Governor Whitmer allows the West Michigan Whitecaps to host 1,000 spectators as an outdoors venue, but with their home season starting a month later than normal this year, they are hopeful to see that number go higher by then.
“By May 11, it will have been 622 days since we’ve played baseball. So today is great news and it’s a step in the right direction. We’re just fingers crossed by the time we get into late April or early May that those numbers are bigger, upwards of 25%, then we’d be at 2,500 or above, that would be excellent,” explained Steve VanWagoner, director of marketing and media relations for the Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps season will go deeper into September this year due to their late start and the team will play just 60 home games as opposed to a typical season’s 70.