Fans to roar in Pennsylvania venues again


Pennsylvania venues back with fans Image: NBA

Officials in Philadelphia (US) confirmed recently that the City will fall in line with Pennsylvania’s revised guidelines on occupancy limits at indoor and outdoor venues, which will allow fans to return to Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park for ‘Sixers’ (American professional basketball team Philadelphia 76ers), ‘Flyers’ (American professional ice hockey team Philadelphia Flyers) and ‘Phillies’ (American professional baseball team Philadelphia Phillies) matchups.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said the change takes effect immediately.

‘Philly Voice’ reported that under the new guidelines, onlookers are allowed at indoor venues at up to 15 percent of a building’s total capacity, regardless of its size. Outdoor venues are permitted up to 20 percent of capacity.

Following the above decision, the Wells Fargo Center will welcome back fans for the first time on March 7th, 2021, when the ‘Flyers’ take on the National Hockey League (NHL) team Washington Capitals at home. The ‘Sixers’ first home game after the National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Star break will be held on March 14th, and they will clash against the American professional basketball team San Antonio Spurs.

The Philadelphia 76ers (colloquially known as the ‘Sixers’) are an American professional basketball team based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Their home ground is the Wells Fargo Center.

The Philadelphia Flyers are a professional ice hockey team based in Philadelphia. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the East division. Their residence too is the Wells Fargo Center.

The Philadelphia Phillies are an American professional baseball team based in Philadelphia. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the National League East division. Since 2004, the team’s home stadium has been Citizens Bank Park, located in South Philadelphia.

The 19,500-capacity Wells Fargo Center is a multipurpose arena located in Philadelphia (US). It serves as the home of the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA and the Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League.

The 43,035-capacity Citizens Bank Park is a baseball park located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, within the City’s South Philadelphia Sports Complex. It is the home of the Philadelphia Phillies, the City’s Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise.

‘Philly Voice’ further reported that circa 3,100 fans will be permitted to attend each game at the venue. With no attendance restrictions, the Wells Fargo Center can fit in 21,000 fiends.

Masks have been made mandatory for fans, they will have to complete a health assessment questionnaire and strictly stick to physical distancing norms.

Informed Valerie Camillo, President, Business Operations, Wells Fargo Center, “We’ve been working around the clock to ensure that we can safely welcome Flyers and 76ers fans back to Wells Fargo Center, and we’re thrilled to open our doors to Philly sports fans once again. This is a big deal for our building and our teams, but it’s also an important step for our local economy. Every time the Flyers and 76ers play at home, we’ll have hundreds of part-time employees back on the job and dozens of local businesses will benefit, too, so this is a win for our entire City.”

Information about obtaining tickets to ‘Sixers’ games can be accessed at the team’s website.

At Citizens Bank Park, 8,800 fans will be greeted back to attend home games when the MLB season begins on April 1st, 2021.

Fans will be seated in pods of two, three or four people, with limited pods available for five or six people.

All attendees in the age bracket of two years and above must wear a face covering over their nose and mouth at all times on ballpark property, other than when actively eating or drinking at their ticketed seats.

Stated ‘Phillies’ Executive Vice-President David Buck, “We have been diligently working with our City and State officials to finalize health and safety protocols at Citizens Bank Park. With these important measures now in place, we are excited to safely welcome a limited number of our fans back to the ballpark experience. The unmatched energy our fans bring to the game has undoubtedly been missed, and we can’t wait to hear their cheers once again come Opening Day.”

Tickets to attend the ‘Phillies’ first 19 regular season home games at Citizens Bank Park will be offered initially to season ticket holders. The general public also will get the chance to purchase tickets from March 12th. Buying tickets will be a strictly online affair and will be available only online at the team’s website.

After that, tickets for the Phillies’ remaining 62 home games will go on sale in early April.

Coronavirus dust yet to settle

Though sports venues greeting fans back comes as a welcome piece of news, but the COVID-19 coast is still not clear in most parts of United States. Dr. Farley warned that the City has seen a slight increase in cases over the past week, which has also been observed in surrounding parts of the region.

Said a worried Dr. Farley, “The increasing number of cases in the region is absolutely a reason to be concerned. This epidemic isn’t finished yet. It has surprised in the past and it likely will again.”

During the past week ending February 27th, the City averaged 241 new COVID-19 cases per day and a test positivity rate of 3.5 percent, based on currently available data, which doesn’t yet capture all cases.

Added Dr. Farley, “I’m concerned that the previous decline that we’ve been seeing may be stalling. In part, that’s just in looking at these numbers. In part, it’s also because I’m seeing that case counts have been rising in the past week in New York, New Jersey and Delaware.”

Eleven new fatalities in Philadelphia reported on March 2nd raised the City’s death toll to 3,102 since the start of the pandemic.

He further observed, “We don’t think we’ve vaccinated enough people to make the epidemic go away, so I’m concerned that what may be happening is that people are starting to get complacent. They may be less likely to use masks or more likely to get together with people indoors when they’re not wearing masks. I’m worried that people are just tired of the epidemic and hoping that we’re past it.”

In the context of the City allowing stadia to open in restricted capacity, Farley said he has remained in regular contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about Philadelphia’s mitigation efforts. The CDC warned recently about States in the United States rolling back restrictions too quickly amid plateauing cases.

Asserted Farley, “There is definitely reason for us to be concerned. But, let’s remember that Philadelphia has had much tighter restrictions than the rest of the country to this point. I think that was the right decision through the winter. Our looser restrictions are still tighter than much of the rest of the country.”

‘AP’ quoted Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf as stating, “We need to balance protecting public health with leading the State to a robust economic recovery. We are lifting mitigation efforts only when we believe it is safe to do so.”

The governing body for Pennsylvania interscholastic sports, meanwhile, said the relaxed Statewide limits could pave the way for fans at winter sports playoff contests.

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