The Tampa Bay Rays Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise has announced a new ‘season membership’ model for this year in place of traditional season ticket plans.

The plan, which is seen as the first step towards welcoming fans back to Tropicana Field this season, will allow fans to choose from six membership levels, each with a separate discount and seating location.

The Rays said that the initiative has been launched this year because traditional fixed season ticket locations will not be available for the 2021 season in order to ensure social distancing protocols at the 42,735-capacity ballpark.

Rays vice president of ticket sales and service, Jeff Tanzer, said: “We look forward to welcoming fans back inside Tropicana Field this year.

“A season membership provides a great way to join the Rays family while receiving tremendous flexibility and value, along with priority access to tickets and incredible benefits throughout the year.”

The move means that fans will be offered an enormous amount of flexibility, for example, a $2,000 plan can be used for 100 $20 tickets or 20 $100 tickets over the course of a season, with a limit of six per game.

Ticket prices will be set in the next couple of weeks, and members will get discounted ticket (and parking) prices and priority access.

The MLB club listed a range of price levels from $500 to $20,000, based on the seating areas, and included only regular-season games. The Rays expect to add seating in the upper deck to the membership options.

Fans who decide to become members will get to choose their games before opening day, though not all 81 may be offered for sale at first. In addition, ticketing will be contactless and processed through the MLB Ballpark app.

Fans will pick from seating arranged in pod-style groupings to follow distancing guidelines.

Those who have credits from the 2020 season can apply them to a season member plan, and must use them by the end of the 2021 season.

The Rays said: “ We continue to work with Major League Baseball and local public health authorities to determine when and how to safely welcome fans back to Tropicana Field. A health and safety protocol which includes a reduced capacity, socially distanced seating and mandatory face masks except while actively eating or drinking in your seat, will be announced prior to the start of the season.”