KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sporting Kansas City is increasing fan capacity for the 2021 season at Children's Mercy Park.
“I compare it to the first day of school for the home opener; You get to see all of your friends that you haven’t seen in several months," season tick holder and Cauldron member Karen Decker said.
Sporting KC fans have been counting down the days to the home opener since the season ended in Dec. 2020.
“I mean, I get kind of emotional about it, like sometimes when I drive by Children’s Mercy Park I’m like, I’ll be there soon," Cauldron member Katelyn Kennedy said.
As Sporting KC hosts Orlando City SC Friday night, around 6,500 fans will be inside Children's Mercy Park cheering the team on.
“We got a little taste of what it’s like to have no fans in the seats and it wasn’t fun," Sporting KC defender Graham Zusi said of 2020.
Last season, Sporting allowed 18 to 20 percent capacity inside the park and will now open at home with 40 percent.
“Fans have definitely been the 12th man that keep pushing us and they set the expectations very high for us so that extra motivation is going to be there, so it’s always great to be at home with the fans," midfielder Roger Espinoza said.
Tickets were available to season ticket members first and sold out quickly.
“I’m going tonight and we were fortunate, we went to the home opener last year and we did go to all the reduced capacity games as well," Decker said.
Some fans were kicking themselves as they were unable to secure a ticket to the first home match of the season.
“Hopefully I will get to go to a lot of games, even if it’s not all of them," Kennedy said.
Much like Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums, there are safety protocols at Children's Mercy Park. Mandatory masks when fans are not actively eating or drinking, temperature checks when fans enter, pod seating to maintain social distancing and cashless payments will all be enforced.
“They are very diligent, if people don’t have their mask on, they’re asked to leave," Decker said.
Fans told 41 Action News they feel safe attending home matches in-person. They're also hopeful as the season goes on, capacity limitations will increase allowing every fan the chance to attend.