Commissioner Rob Manfred took a judicious approach to allowing fans into stadiums in 2020, and it’s hard to argue that it wasn’t the right strategy. MLB didn’t allow fans into stadiums until the Championship Series, and even then they limited entries. With rigorous testing and strict protocols, MLB went 54 days without a positive test before Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 during game six of the World Series. The NFL, in their struggle to contain the virus, is proving the significance of MLB’s achievement in that regard.

There’s a new plan for next season, however. Commissioner Manfred believes that the lack of live baseball diminished interest in the sport and affected revenues beyond the obvious loss of ticket sales. Specifically, MLB estimates that 40% of their overall revenue ties directly to the presence of fans at live games, per the Athletic’s Evan Drellich. Even in a limited capacity, fans at ballgames in 2021 could help keep audience engaged throughout the season and into its endgame: the playoffs.