For restaurants opening back up during COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest problem is usually figuring out where people will sit.

That’s not the case in the outfield at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. As the state has transitioned into Phase 2 of its re-opening plan, the team has turned its field into a makeshift, spacious eatery where diners can safely dig into ballpark staples like burgers and hot dogs. There are even lobster rolls if you want them.

One recent Sunday, staffers from the front office on down scrambled back and forth, seating guests and bringing their orders out in Styrofoam boxes. Team President Charles Steinberg waded around to each of the 33 tables, symbolizing the innings in the longest game in organized baseball history, checking in on the guests.

"When Governor Romondo of Rhode Island announced that outdoor dining was going to return as part of the state’s recovery, we thought to ourselves, ‘You know, what’s a better outdoor dining venue than the beautiful baseball field we have at 78-year-old McCoy Stadium?'" he said. "And so that’s where the genesis of the idea was."

This isn’t how the team planned its last season in Pawtucket before its scheduled move to Worcester. But as the minor leagues and collegiate summer leagues are trying to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, anything to keep hopes and spirits high helps.

Across the country, baseball clubs from big Triple A affiliates like the Pawtucket Red Sox to teams in collegiate summer baseball leagues are trying to figure out what comes next.

For some, the pandemic is coming on top of another crisis. For months, Major League Baseball has been mulling over a contraction plan to cutdown its ties to the minor leagues, leaving the future of the game at that level hazy. That was before reportedly hundreds of minor leaguers lost their jobs as COVID-19 forced play to a halt. The Boston Red Sox are reportedly continuing to pay their minor league players through August although some have already been cut.

In May, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, who has been vocal in trying to keep the Lowell Spinners afloat, helped introduce bipartisan legislation to extend additional federal coronavirus relief to minor league clubs and other small businesses. Lowell is in her district.

“And we’re at the point where minor league teams like the Spinners, they might not have a season at all because they’re going to be the last ones to re-open safely under most state’s re-opening plans," she said. "And that’s forcing teams to make tough business decisions.”

She said the contraction situation is still fluid, but she wants to see Lowell continue to enjoy the Spinners.

"We want to continue what we started 25 years ago in Lowell, which is a successful affiliation with the Boston Red Sox," she said. "And that, I think, is what you're seeing in communities like Lowell banding together to make that case."

The Cape Cod Baseball League got ahead of the curve by cancelling its season well before it could start. The nonprofit collegiate summer league doesn’t shoulder the same expenses as minor leagues so operating costs without games have been low.

Collegiate summer leagues help college players hone their skills and get more eyeballs on their game over the summer months. And while scouts have been able to meet virtually with prospects, Commissioner Eric Zmuda knows the atmospere of the league offers a platform you can't get anywhere else.

“So absent of that, absent of seeing a game, absent of seeing them in person, I know they’re doing the best they can, but it’s just not the same," he said. "And we’re really looking forward to 2021 where we can try to get back to that little sense of normalcy next year.”

Dave Peterson, the general manager of the Worcester Bravehearts, who play in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, said the entire front office was furloughed for four weeks before the team received a Paycheck Protection Program Loan, a federal program.

Despite early setbacks, the Futures League still hopes to have a season. If that happens, it will be less flashy than usual. There will be no fireworks shows, and seating capacity will probably be lowered if games can go on. But if the league can play, Peterson believes it should.

“And we can do it. We can do it safely; we can do it smart," he said. "We’re not gonna make any money this year. But I think just the fact that we’re giving families in the community something to look forward to is the reason for our existence.”

Back in Pawtucket, it was another successful night of Dining on the Diamond. The first weekend sold out in about 90 minutes. About 1,000 people were on the waiting list to reserve a table.

But it has been a bittersweet experience as the PawSox prepare to move to Worcester.

Steinberg, the team's president, admits the ownership group won’t pay the bills coming in with ballpark dining receipts. But in a summer where baseball may not happen, the PawSox are still having a final, albeit unexpected, farewell.

“You’ve got to have hope and faith. And I think that we embody that," he said. "You can sit there and look out your window and wait, to paraphrase an old Hall of Famer. Or you can do something about it.”

For baseball teams across the U.S., that sort of optimism may be all that's left.