The Detroit Tigers are back in town this weekend! … Try not to get too excited, OK?
Their 2021 MLB season is virtually hopeless before Mother’s Day, as a painful rebuild approaches a half-dozen years.
But the on-field product doesn’t fully ruin an afternoon or evening at Comerica Park, an experience that many Michiganders haven’t had in more than a year now.
And even though the MLB standings are again moving in the wrong direction in Michigan, the COVID-19 outlook appears to be turning a corner.
If you’re comfortable with it, a few hours at the ballpark is still a pretty hard outing to beat.
PlayMichigan went to an afternoon game in the cold a couple weeks ago to try out some in-stadium live wagers, which should be a growth market in the coming months and years for the MI sports betting scene.
We also have some things you need to know if you want to go in 2021.
Plenty of tickets available, despite attendance restrictions
Despite attendance restrictions capping fans at 8,200, a look at the Tigers’ website shows plenty of tickets available for the Minnesota Twins’ visit this weekend.
The Chicago Cubs are in town next weekend for interleague play, and with temperatures climbing, you might want to jump on those tickets a bit early.
When I went for a Thursday afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, tickets were available for the $17 cheap seats by walking up. Same goes for right up until first pitch on the website.
(A shout-out to my friend Doc Joe Brown, host of the the Pro Wrestling Talk for the Pistons Fan Podcast, for hooking me up for tickets.)
There are tickets available for May home games for as low as $10.
Capacity restrictions will likely not change during this homestand. As part of the MI Vacc to Normal plan from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, capacity will be allowed to hit 25% two weeks after residents 16 and older hit a 60% vaccine rate for first doses. That plan was announced for indoor sporting events, though it’s expected that outdoor sporting events would be allowed to also increase capacity.
As of Tuesday, 50.6% of residents had received one dose.
Before you leave: Fill out that safety survey
Ready for another health survey? Well, whether you are or aren’t, the Tigers require fans to fill out a Gameday Wellness survey no more than 24 hours before the game. It’s best to do this at home.
After completion, you’ll get an email clearing you for your visit. The team recommends taking a screenshot to show when you enter.
When I arrived at Comerica Park, I saw several other ticket-holders who hadn’t filled out the survey plugging through it on their phones.
It wasn’t a big deal, and staff was there with a QR code you can scan to make it easy to pull up. But you can avoid that hassle by doing it from home.
Other things to know for Comerica Park entry
You’ll also have to show your ticket on the MLB Ballpark app. Paper tickets are now a no-no.
Presuming you are making a commute, you also should reserve parking before you leave home at tigers.com/parking. Bags, purses and clutches are prohibited.
One more thing I wish I had known: Although the Tigers go to great lengths to let you know you can’t bring food or water in, you actually can bring sealed bottles of unflavored water in.
The security guy told me that as he told me to toss my half-consumed water bottle in the trash.
After a $19 (cashless) purchase for a beer and bottle of water a few minutes later, I really wish I had known that rule.
Oh, and even though the CDC outdoor mask recommendations have been lifted, masks are still required indoors at Comerica Park as of mid-May.
And they can still be pretty useful when it’s cold, anyways.
What can you do before the game in Detroit?
Some bars are back open here in downtown Detroit. Not all of them, though.
Brass Rail on Adams will be open a couple hours before afternoon first pitch and always gets a good crowd. Harry’s Detroit next to Little Caesars Arena had more than a dozen fans pre-gaming for a Thursday 1:05 p.m. pitch when I went by.
Plus, Tin Roof (the old Cheli’s Chili Bar) has a large outdoor space right across Witherell Street, complete with turf on the ground. Just don’t pull the old ACL changing directions if it’s crowded.
A Ford Field and Comerica Park staple, the Elwood Bar & Grill, was not open the day I stopped by. But it has been open most days other than Opening Day, I hear.
Most of the food is still available at the stadium
I was actually surprised with how many food and drink were open, given the capacity restrictions.
There are plenty of stands with all the ballpark staples, along with Little Caesars Pizza stations, naturally.
However, many of the park’s specialty items are not available.
Every stand in the Big Cat Court is closed, so all of those items are unavailable, including the coney egg roll. In addition, the carousel is currently out of operation, as is the Ferris wheel across the park.
I was saddened to see that the coney pizza is not on the menu this year, either, at Comerica’s Little Caesars. I’ve actually wanted to try it over the years. Apparently, I’m not alone. The cashier said many disappointed folks are asking for it.
Also, eating and drinking is only permitted at your seat. Before I knew that, though, I was sipping my beer while walking the concourse. However, nobody tackled me or anything.
The outdoor smoking area is also closed.