New York stadia to open doors to limited fans


New York stadiums and arenas can open for fans Image: Madison Square Garden

Come February 23rd, 2021, and stadia in New York (US), with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, will open up to 10 percent capacity almost a year after the pandemic knocked spectators out of the space that was rightfully theirs. sources stated that an announcement in this regard was made recently by the New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo following successful pilots conducted by the National Football League (NFL) team Buffalo Bills in their residence – New York’s 71,870-capacity Bills Stadium – to let in fans at 10 percent capacity.

Buffalo Bills had hosted two playoff games, the first on January 16th, with about 6,700 fans in attendance at Bills Stadium, which was just over 9 percent of the 72,000-capacity arena.

“While we’re doing vaccines and while we’re controlling the spread of COVID-19, we also have to at the same time get this economy open, intelligently and in a balanced way,” Cuomo observed.

He added, “The Buffalo Bills demonstration program which I mentioned before was an unparalleled success. We’re now going to extend the Buffalo Bills example. Any large stadium or arena hockey, basketball, football, soccer, baseball, can open on February 23rd.”

Apart from face coverings, temperature checks and social distancing that a State-assigned seating arrangement will ensure, all those attending must mandatorily get a PCR COVID test done and be able to produce a negative report within 72 hours of the sports event.

The decision has brought cheer to fans of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team New York Knicks and the National Hockey League’s (NHL’s) the New York Rangers, tenants of New York’s 20,789-capacity Madison Square Garden and to supporters of NBA’s the Brooklyn Nets whose residence is the 19,000-capacity Barclays Center and the NHL team – the New York Islanders, who shuttles between the venues – the 14,500-capacity Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center – all of whose fixtures are planned in February and forwards.

The New York’s Department of Health, which has to greenlight each of the venues and events in order to host spectators, has already approved the Brooklyn Nets to have fans in attendance for a February 23rd game at Barclays Center against the NBA team Sacramento Kings. The Knicks, too, will host the NBA team Golden State Warriors on the same day at Madison Square Garden.

The New York Islanders first matchup with fans in attendance will be held on February 26th against the NHL team Boston Bruins.

“It is exciting that Governor Cuomo has announced that New York State will allow a limited number of fans to attend games starting February 23rd,” the Islanders stated in a statement sent out.

The statement further read, “We look forward to welcoming the best fans in hockey back to the Coliseum as soon as possible and to UBS Arena at Belmont Park next season.”

The first game of NHL’s Buffalo Sabres will also be graced by fans when they clash against the New Jersey Devils on February 25th in the 19,200-capacity KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.

Ten percent of capacity of KeyBank Center would mean 1,907 fans would be allowed to attend games.

The statements released by both the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Amerks, a professional ice hockey team owned and operated affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres that plays its home games at New York’s Blue Cross Arena, did not indicate that they planned to have fans back in the building as soon as they are allowed to do so. However, enough hints have been thrown that the team is already beginning to get ready for the return of fans.

At Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers disclosed that they and the Knicks will host “roughly 2,000 fans at every game”.

“Health and safety remain our top priority, and we will be working closely with State and health officials to implement the strongest operating protocols,” the Knicks and Rangers said in a joint statement.

“We know our fans are anxious to return and we can’t wait to see them at the Garden once again,” the statement added. sources quoted BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi as stating, “Thank you to Governor Cuomo and his team at the Department of Health for collaborating with us in creating a robust health and safety plan that allows fans to return to our arena.”

“The Governor has played a tremendous role in getting New York businesses back on their feet and we are proud to announce that for the remainder of the season we are donating a portion of ticket proceeds to support vaccination efforts here in Brooklyn. We would also like to thank our fans for their support this season and we are looking forward to bringing their energy back to Barclays Center!” Abbamondi added.

BSE Global manages and operates Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Nets, its NBA G League team, the Long Island Nets, and its NBA 2K League affiliate, NetsGC. Through programing, marketing, sales, and operations, BSE delivers dynamic content and experiences for audiences.

Major League Baseball

With the Major League Baseball (MLB) season slated to begin from April 1st, 2021, both MLB teams – the New York Mets and New York Yankees, can expect several thousand fans at their fixtures in their respective home arenas.

The Yankees will play Toronto Blue Jays at the former’s digs – the 54,251-capacity Yankee Stadium – on April 1st, while the Mets will host the Miami Marlins on April 8th at the former’s home venue – at the 41,922-capacity Citi Field.

A statement sent out by the Yankees read, “We thank the Governor for his leadership, and we will continue to engage his office in productive dialog moving forward. The safety of everyone who enters Yankee Stadium remains our top priority, and we will work diligently and in lock-step with the Governor to ensure all precautions and procedures are being followed as we lead up to the 2021 baseball season,” the statement added.

The Mets said in a statement, “It’s an encouraging first step toward us potentially welcoming fans back to Citi Field. We look forward to working with Government officials to ensure that the return to the ballpark is safe and convenient for our fans.”

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