Mud Hens and local bars planning for downtown revival this Spring

Restaurant and bar owners are excited for the team’s return to the ballpark, while awaiting a later statewide curfew
Published: Feb. 10, 2021 at 8:33 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - As the Toledo Mud Hens await a 2021 season schedule, officials from the organization and local business owners are already planning for what’s to come this Spring, while keeping the community safe.

“It was a difficult year for us to not be able to play,” says Executive VP & General Manager Erik Ibsen. “We do see some light at the end of the tunnel here now, and believe it or not, we are getting ready for an April start.”

The minor league organization has been quiet about their plans the last eight months, but Ibsen says they’re looking forward to breaking the silence as more information is passed down from the MLB.

“We’re looking at a capacity of 1,500 for the start of the season,” adds Ibsen, who tells 13abc a schedule is expected to be announced next week.

Meanwhile, the Mud Hens are finalizing plans for season ticket plans, inventory, and online ticketing for individual games.

“It’s slightly early in terms of getting into the details, but it’s going to come fast and furious,” says Ibsen, explaining that the schedule will be the tipping point before all the nuts and bolts are released.

Currently, fans can go online to buy a $100 deposit, putting money down towards future tickets when they are available for purchase.

“It was really just to get people thinking about us again and let people know that it is coming,” explains Ibsen, who also says the schedule will also be a deciding factor for ticketing options. “Being able to tie that to the capacity at Fifth Third Field, along with all the safety protocols that we’re working on to make sure the ballpark is safe and ready to go.”

Experiences like visits to the Swamp Shop for merchandise, food, and beverage vendors are all expected to return.

“We’re trying to replicate the experience people have come to know at Mud Hens games at Fifth Third Field in the past. Obviously, there’ll be different protocols in place and there’s a laundry list of things we’re pulling together now,” says Ibsen.

Capacity increases as the season progresses is also a hope for the organization. Ibsen says throughout it all, they will be working with the Toledo Lucas County Health Department.

As of now, Ibsen says there are no plans to require spectators to be vaccinated, and with the sport being outdoors, they are hopeful that more people being vaccinated will mean fewer cases, and in turn, more people allowed at games and other events.

Bars and restaurants like The Blarney Irish Pub are working on more protocols, as owners are expecting more fans coming in as they descend downtown to the ballpark.

“With the Mud Hens coming back and St. Patrick’s day next month, we’re getting ready for that as well,” says owner Ed Beczynski. “We’ve already met with the Mayor’s office on some different things we wanted to do. We understand they’re okay about some of it, but the Health Department is a little iffy.”

He knows opening day will be different, too, but after almost a year of dealing with the pandemic’s impacts of their industry, Beczynski is hopeful to find ways the bar can safely celebrate.

“We’re looking at, on St. Patrick’s Day, reservations for two-hour increments.”

He says the city may also make outdoor preparations, like closing portions of downtown streets for more outdoor space and seating.

“It’s just peace of mind for us that things are coming back gradually with the vaccine and numbers are going down,” adds Beczynski. “It’s just figuring out where we’re at, at the time, and making sure not only that our employees are safe but that our guests are safe as well.”

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