The Ducks released their 2021 schedule Wednesday and are hopeful that some fans will be permitted in the ballpark to see the Ducks defend their 2019 championship in a new-look Atlantic League and a newly named Fairfield Properties Ballpark in Central Islip.
The Ducks open the season at home May 28 against the Lexington Legends, formally a Kansas City Royals affiliate and one of the Atlantic League’s three new teams.
The Ducks have submitted a COVID-19 ballpark readiness plan to Suffolk County and state health officials and are working toward having fans at the ballpark on opening night, said Michael Pfaff, Ducks president and general manager.
The plan would call for 50% capacity, or 3,001 fans, to be allowed in on opening night, Pfaff said. Pfaff added that Suffolk officials support the plan and they are now waiting on further guidance from the state.
"One of the reasons the league decided to push back the start date [from late April/early May] was to give the clubs more time to get as high a capacity percentage as possible," Pfaff said. "Memorial Day weekend is three months from now, so it gives everyone enough time to get their plans in the right hands and hopefully get everyone to as high a capacity percentage as permissible."
Pfaff said that the team is encouraged by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s recent announcement that outdoor amusement parks can open at 33% percent capacity beginning April 9.
"We are hopeful and confident that with the additional rollout of vaccinations, as well as the lowering numbers that we’re all seeing, that 50% will be something that is doable by May 28," Pfaff said.
The Atlantic League will feature North and South divisions in 2021, with the Ducks playing in the North alongside the Lancaster Barnstormers, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and York Revolution. The South will feature the Legends, the High Point Rockers, and two additional new teams — the West Virginia Power, formally an MLB affiliate for seven different teams since their inception in 1987 and the Gastonia Honey Hunters, an expansion team located in Gastonia, North Carolina.
The 2021 schedule will feature 120 games, with the Ducks ending the regular season at home on Oct. 10 against the Revolution and the playoffs scheduled for later that week.