(WGHP) — The fireworks, the cheering, the smell of hot dogs: all signs that America’s favorite pastime is back in play in the Triad.
The Winston-Salem Dash and the Greensboro Grasshoppers will be up to bat on Tuesday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Baseball fans are excited and so are local business owners.
The stadiums in both cities haven’t been filled since 2019. That means the foot traffic that normally accompanies the games hasn’t been present either.
After a long, tough year of working around capacity limits and lockdown, local bar and restaurant owners are ready for the extra foot traffic.
“It was dead silent. Our doors were fully closed and so it was deafening. Eerie,” Kimberly Cain said.
That’s what the 2020 baseball season looked like at Second & Green Tavern in Winston-Salem: an empty patio and empty barstools.
The tavern sits just about a quarter of a mile away from Truist Stadium.
“We’ve been waiting a long time for this,” Cain said. “Last year, our total revenue loss, I’d estimate, is a total of $150,000.”
After 600 days of empty seats at the stadium, she can’t wait for things to change.
“Today is opening day of the Dash. It’s always been one of our biggest days. That and July 4th with the Dash and the fireworks. It’s such an awesome feeling,” Cain said.
It’s a feeling stretching across the Triad.
“I’m hoping it’s a little different and they have the capacity and people will be outside now, because they’ve been cooped up for over a year,” said Jimmy Contogiannis, the owner of Acropolis Restaurant, which sits directly across from where the Greensboro Grasshoppers play.
Greensboro restaurant owners are also stepping up to the plate.
They’re hoping the open stadiums and fans means more business for them.
“Everyone is excited. I mean, we’re out of practice. We’re really out of practice,” said Christopher Thorpe, the bar manager for Fishers Grille, a restaurant close to First National Bank Field.
“If it’s anything like it was before [the pandemic] then most definitely there will be a lot of people downtown,” he said.
They’re all hoping this is the start to what could be a home run of a summer.
“We’re hoping everyone comes out and has a good time,” Thorpe said.
“It feels good to have people in and things moving around and getting things somewhat back to normal,” Contogiannis said.