- The Washington Times
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Max Scherzer loved seeing fans back in Nationals Park on Tuesday night, but he still has questions.

The lower bowl of the stadium was sparsely filled with 4,801 fans — D.C. allows the Nationals to host a maximum of 5,000 — but the upper decks were bare, apart from the mascot named Screech.

“I don’t understand why they wouldn’t let fans in the upper deck,” Scherzer said Tuesday night, after he pitched six innings of Washington’s season-opening 6-5 win against the Atlanta Braves. “I don’t understand why we can’t have more fans here.

“Somebody’s got to explain that to me because that doesn’t make sense to me whatsoever,” Scherzer continued. “So I understand that we need to be safe, I respect the virus. But we can also have fans in the top part of the deck. We can have more fans in here safely. So I would love an explanation and like I said, that’s all I’ll say.”

D.C. has opted for a conservative approach to reopening stadiums. The Nationals and D.C. United received approval to host small quantities of fans at their outdoor stadiums last month, but the Wizards and Capitals are still waiting for word on if they can host fans at Capital One Arena.

Monumental Sports and Entertainment — the company that owns the Wizards and Capitals — said in a statement “it appears we will complete the 20-21 season with no fans in attendance.”

When asked for his thoughts on Scherzer’s comments, Nationals manager Dave Martinez emphasized the positive. There are 5,000 fans at Nationals Park, at least, which is better than the bare stadiums in 2020. He’ll take that over the alternative.

“What I do know is that we had 5,000 amazing fans yesterday,” Martinez said. “Whether they were in the upper deck, lower deck, for myself, it was awesome to see those people there. … And from what I gathered, from what I heard, they were elated to be back.”

In a release on Tuesday, the Nationals said discussions are in progress to increase the permissible capacity at the stadium by May 1.

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

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