Blowfish close gates after Governor doesn’t give green light to fans at ballpark
Ownership plans on re-applying with the Governor's Office to see if they let fans in
LEXINGTON COUNTY , S.C. (WOLO) — After South Carolina had more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the eleventh time in twelve days, Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) announced that he hasn’t given the green light for fans to attend sporting events.
Even though he issued an executive order May 20 that allowed amateur sports to start playing games “with or without spectators”, the Governor told reporters that restrictions on spectator sports, alongside concerts and large gatherings, have not been lifted.
These restrictions, according to Gov. McMaster, include the Lexington County Blowfish, who were set to play their first game of the season in front of fans Wednesday night.
Leading up to the game, the organization had roped off seats, had signage and hand sanitizer stations, and and was only going to allow one-third of their 2,400 fan-capacity into the ballpark.
Just an hour before Wednesday’s game, the team closed the gates to receive clarification from the Governor’s Office on whether they could play in front of fans or not.
Upon receiving that clarification, the game went on as scheduled, but fans would not be allowed into the ballpark. Several stayed in the parking lot, watching the showdown between the Blowfish and Bomb Island Bombers through the chain-link gate.
In a Facebook post, Shanahan said he filed a request with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and since the organization was deemed a non-essential business, it was rejected.
Shanahan said he was going off of guidance from the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission, the owner of the team’s ballpark, who said they could start practices June 15 and play games in front of fans July 1.
Team owner Bill Shanahan says the team will file another request to have fans at the ballpark. If they do get the green light, he says safety would be at the top of the batting order.
“We’re still going to do it in the safest way we possibly can, and hopefully, as the season goes on, more people will feel more safe and want to watch a Blowfish baseball game,” Shanahan told ABC Columbia before Wednesday’s game.
The South Carolina Baseball American Legion Summer League, which has played several games at Segra Park in Columbia this summer, posted on Twitter that they were aware of the Governor’s statements, but they would follow the Governor’s initial executive order from May 20 that allowed fans to attend amateur events.
All this comes in the midst of South Carolina having more than 1,000 new cases of COVID-19 for the eleventh time in twelve days. DHEC reported 1,497 new cases of the virus as well as record 24 deaths.
“If we want to go into the fall with the schools opening and football games and all of the things that go along with that, all the kinds of celebrations and concerts and gatherings, we must control the spread of this virus,” Gov. McMaster said.
Shanahan said the organization will keep fans posted on whether the Governor’s Office gives them the green light to let fans back into the ballpark.