New York arenas open with strict COVID norms



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New York venue requirements for fans Image: smartsave & MSG

Following the recent announcement that Madison Square Garden (MSG) (US) will begin welcoming limited in-person fans for the American professional basketball team New York Knicks and the American professional ice hockey team New York Rangers games in accordance with State reopening guidelines, the iconic Manhattan arena has added a new concert event to its calendar.

The Madison Square Garden began hosting in-person fans from February 23rd, 2021. The New Year Knicks played in front of home fans (around 2,000) for the first time in a year on Tuesday – 352 days since spectators were last allowed into the legendary venue before the pandemic shutdown as COVID-19 claims more than 500,000 lives in the United States. The Knicks lost narrowly to National Basketball Association (NBA) team Golden State Warriors.

The New York Rangers will clash against the National Hockey League (NHL) team Boston Bruins on February 26th, 2021 in front of circa 2,000 fans at the Madison Square Garden.

liveforlivemusic.com sources stated that the newly announced performance by Colombian artiste Maluma is set to take place at MSG on October 1st, 2021, according to the show’s announcement. Tickets for the show are set to go on sale from February 25th.

The 20,789-capacity Madison Square Garden, colloquially known as The Garden or in initials as MSG, is a multipurpose indoor arena in New York City (US).

The New York Knickerbockers, more commonly referred to as the New York Knicks, are an American professional basketball team based in the New York City borough of Manhattan. The Knicks compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks home ground is the famed Madison Square Garden.

The New York Rangers are a professional ice hockey team based in New York City. They compete in the National Hockey League (NHL) as a member of the East Division. Their residence is the Madison Square Garden.

The Boston Bruins are a professional ice hockey team based in Boston (US). They compete in the NHL as a member of the East Division. The team has been in existence since 1924, making them the third-oldest active team in the NHL, and the oldest to be based in the United States. Their home venue is the 19,580-capacity TD Garden in Boston.

The two major arenas of New York CityMadison Square Garden and Barclays Center – reopened on February 23rd following the recent announcement of the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to allow arenas and stadiums to reopen across the State for crowds limited to 10 percent of the building’s overall capacity.

billboard.com sources quoted Cuomo as stating, “The truth is, we cannot stay closed until everyone is vaccinated. The economic, psychological, emotional cost would be incredible.”

At the Barclays Center – the NBA team Brooklyn Nets took on the Sacramento Kings on February 23rd, 2021 and the former posted a 127-118 win over the latter.

The 19,000-capacity Barclays Center is a multipurpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The arena is home to the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The Brooklyn Nets are an American professional basketball team based in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The Nets compete in the NBA as a member of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. The team plays its home games at Barclays Center.

The Sacramento Kings are an American professional basketball team based in Sacramento, California. The Kings compete in the NBA as a member of the Western Conference Pacific Division.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a professional basketball league in North America. The league is composed of 30 teams and is one of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. It is the premier men’s professional basketball league in the world.

The National Hockey League (NHL) is a professional ice hockey league in North America, currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.
 

Fans dos and don’ts at MSG

The Knicks-Warriors matchup at MSG was played in front of 2,000 fans seated in two-seat, socially distanced pods spread out across the arena. The new State guidelines made it mandatory that ticket holders show proof that they have tested negative on a PCR COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to an event, even if they have already been administered the jab.

billboard.com sources added that MSG guests were screened via temperature check and reading will have to be below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to get ingress. Wearing of face coverings was made compulsory at all times except while eating or drinking in their assigned seats. All in-venue purchases, including food and beverage, were a cashless affair via credit card purchases and mobile payment systems like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

MSG officials also asked fans to take a health survey via the arena’s smart phone app 12 hours prior to the game, and employees at MSG were tested regularly.

A statement sent out by Andrew Lustgarten, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MSG Sports (leading professional sports company), who also holds the position of President, MSG, read, “We are thrilled that we could finally start to welcome fans back, beginning with the Knicks and Rangers games, and could be part of this important step for our City.”

Added Lustgarten, “While we currently have limited capacity, we’re focused on creating the safest and most enjoyable environment, with strict operating protocols developed with State and health officials.”

With only about 2,000 tickets available per game, MSG accorded top priority to season ticket holders and suite members.

Doors opened 90 minutes prior to the Knicks-Warriors fixture, with guests assigned to specific entrances based on their seating location inside the arena. Tickets were sold in two seat pods, starting at $50 apiece, with pods spaced apart and socially distanced from one another.
 

Fans dos and don’ts at Barclays Center

The capacity was also reduced to 10 percent at the Barclays Center when the home team Brooklyn Nets took on the Sacramento Kings on February 23rd, and fans were also required to show a negative test result to gain entry and temperature checks was conducted and wearing of masks was made compulsory.
 

Knicks-Rangers on cloud nine

Members of the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks organizations have joined together to express excitement and gratitude about their return.

Exulted Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau prior to the Knick-Warriors fixture, “We’re very excited. We understand how important our fans are and certainly appreciate all the support that they’ve given us. We’re looking forward to the day when The Garden is full, but we’re excited to have our fans in the building – they’re an important part of our organization.”

Observed Rangers Head Coach David Quinn, “Rangers fans are special – and we understand all the support they’ve given us from afar, so we cannot wait for the day The Garden is full. Even if it’s just a couple thousand fans to start, we’re beyond excited to see them in the stands and hear their energy during the game.”

msgsports.com quoted Knicks forward Obi Toppin as stating, “New York has been through a lot this year, especially through COVID. And for us to have the opportunity to play in front of fans is definitely going in the right direction… I’ve dreamt of this moment since I was a young kid, playing in this amazing arena with all these amazing fans and for the day to finally be here is amazing.”

Stated Rangers center Ryan Strome, “My reaction to having fans back in the building was just excitement. Even though its fun to play and we know the fans are watching on TV, it’s not the same without them in the building and rooting us on. We’re excited to grow the capacity in the rink here and get back to what we know best at MSG.”

Said Knicks forward Julius Randle, “This is a huge first step for the City of New York, and we know it’s been a long process, throughout the whole quarantine and everything that’s going on. Let’s keep being safe and taking the necessary protocols so we can all get back to a normal, safe environment.”

“Our fans have been incredibly loyal throughout this period, and we are so excited to welcome them back to The Garden,” opined Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.

msgsports.com sources added that both the Knicks and Rangers organizations will recognize and honor various essential and frontline workers that have worked so tirelessly over the pandemic which has torn the United States to shreds. This will include having them attend games as invited guests and highlighting their impact during in-game presentations or via game telecasts.

Added Quinn, “Our job is sports – we love what we do, and take great pride in representing our City. But, we stand in awe of the people who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe and healthy and going every day – especially during these tough times. We can’t thank them enough. They are our heroes.”
 

Stare in the face

The reopening of the above two arenas has begun as venues across the world wait to receive the nod to reopen at a reduced capacity after being shut down for nearly one year which has sent the sports venue sector bleeding white. Recently, the AEG-managed O2 Arena in London had to reschedule a February 27th reduced capacity concert for the English rock band Squeeze (the show’s second rescheduling) as the United Kingdom is still not out of the COVID-19 labyrinth.

Citing “the current lockdown in England”, the band’s Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford said in a statement that the logistics of pulling off the event for the concert promoted by AEG Presents and SJM concerts under lockdown conditions was “impossible”.

Stated Manager Randy Phillips, “I think anyone who thinks 2021 is a reality for touring or festivals is out of their mind. They’re fooling themselves. It’s not just about the vaccinations and how slowly that’s rolling out. It’s the economy. Drive around town and there are so many ‘for lease’ signs in stores and so many restaurants that are closed. When are these businesses coming back? When are these jobs coming back?”

Agent Dennis Arfa could not agree more, and remarked that the economics of moving large-scale tours across United States just don’t work unless tours can sell at least 85-90 percent of their tickets – “If there’s touring in January 2022, you need herd immunity by June so that the playing field is okay in October and November at the latest. And that means the NBA and the NHL and the sporting teams are all running at full capacity. That’s the reality.”

Cuomo-announced rules apply to all arenas and stadia in New York State, though major arenas like the 17,500-capacity Times Union Center in Albany, New York and the 13,000-capacity Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, New York, does not have any events on their calendar until May 2021.

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