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BASEBALL IS BACK: Cedar Rapids Kernels welcome fans to the stadium

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) - After 603 days without baseball, the Veterans Memorial Stadium and Perfect Game Field are reopening.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels held a ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday morning outside the gates of the stadium.

Last year, the Kernels survived Major League Baseball cutting 42 minor league teams, losing the 2020 season and the derecho.

The facilities sustained approximately $1.5 million dollars in damage. The city of Cedar Rapids is loaning $1.4 million dollars to the Kernels.

"City council is really proud of the role we played in supporting and encouraging the Kernels so they can play right here," Mayor Brad Hart said in a speech at the ribbon cutting.

The Kernels will remain affiliated with the Minnesota Twins for another 10 years.

While most of the derecho damage is repaired, CEO, Doug Nelson says they have a few "band-aids here and there."

"Our field lights had a manufacturing delay, so we have temporary lights set up for the first six games," Nelson said.

COVID-19 Protocols

The Kernels expect a "socially distanced sellout" and around 1,800 fans in the stadium.

With a COVID-19 readiness plan, attendees should expect to wear masks throughout the stadium, except while eating and drinking. Groups and families can sit together, but six feet apart from others.

Plexiglass is along the bull pens to protect players. There will be no pre-game activities on the field.

"I can't wait for that first crack of the bat and to hear the roar from the fans because baseball is so much more than just a sporting event... it's also a social event," Nelson said.

The Kernels still plan to host events such as concerts, high school games and non-profit events. The 2021 season will be 120 games, with the Kernels playing 60 at home.

Kennedy DeRaedt

Photojournalist

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