John Weber peeked at the weather forecast for this weekend — highs in the 70s with partly sunny skies on Saturday and Sunday — and imagined what Citizens Bank Park would look like for a three-game series between the Phillies and Rockies.
“How much fun would that have been to have our fans there,” said Weber, the team’s senior vice president of ticket operations. “A great crowd in early May. There’s not a better time for baseball than a 72-degree day on a weekend.”
But instead of preparing for a large turnout in South Philly, Weber and his staff will spend the next few days working remotely as they offer refunds for any tickets sold for Phillies games that were to be played in April or May.
The team is beginning to contact customers — season-ticket holders, group leaders, and single-game buyers — and inform them that they are eligible for a refund. The Phillies are offering two options for their April and May tickets: a credit to your account for missed games that could be used for future games in 2020 or 2021, or your money back.
“This is a unique situation and our goal is always to take care of our customers,” said Weber. “We’re here to help as best as we can.”
The Phillies were scheduled to play 28 games in April and May, which is roughly 35% of their home schedule. They had sold out April 2’s home opener and had seen a boost in interest thanks to the arrival of manager Joe Girardi. The Phillies have a season-ticket base of 11,600 and put single-game tickets on sale Feb. 12. A month later, the season was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We all just want to see baseball,” Weber said. “That’s one of the things that’s amazing when you call up a season-ticket holder and ask about their family, they really just want to see baseball in 2020. Everybody here at the Phillies, including our players, miss our fans and hope that they are safe.”
For now, if you’re holding tickets for games after May you will have to wait for a refund. Even if the Phillies are able to play this season at Citizens Bank Park, it would likely be in front of empty seats. Major League Baseball appears committed to playing a modified season in 2020, but the pandemic would make it difficult to have fans in the ballpark.
The Phillies are beginning their refunds by dealing first with April and May then waiting for more clarification on what baseball will look like this summer. The Cubs and Athletics were scheduled to visit Philly in June, Mike Trout and the Angels are booked for a weekend in July, and the 1980 world champions are slated to reunite in August.
It’s easy to imagine what the crowds would have been like for those games. Instead, there’s the possibility that Citizens Bank Park will be just as empty then as it will be this weekend.