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In a bit of surprise, New York state will permit a limited number of fans in stands at arenas and stadiums starting February 23. In addition to limits on attendance, the state announced other restrictions, including negative tests for COVID-19 within 72 hours of a game. The Nets-Kings game on February 23 is first event in the state that the State Department of Health has cleared.

The numbers will be up to arena operators but in a statement Wednesday, Governor Mario Cuomo laid out the conditions...

Cuomo said the inclusion of fans at the Nets-Kings game has already been approved by the State Department of Health. The Kings game is the start of a three-game Nets homestand.

“The truth is, we cannot stay closed until everyone is vaccinated. The economic, psychological, emotional cost would be incredible,” the governor told a press conference.

A few hours after the announcement, the Nets said they plan to permit up to 10 percent capacity “until further notice”. A 10-percent capacity limit would permit nearly 1,800 fans inside Barclays Center. The arena has a capacity of 17,732 for NBA games.

Here’s the team/arena statement with details on the restrictions as well as information on how fans will be selected. Basically, season ticket members and suite holders will get top priority...

Barclays Center will employ robust health and safety protocols that have been developed in coordination with the New York State Department of Health, the National Basketball Association and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC). These protocols include: a negative PCR test for all patrons, administered within 72 hours in advance of the game; mandatory temperature checks; social distancing and use of face masks; and thorough cleaning and sanitation procedures. To help further ensure the safety of Barclays Center fans and employees, the venue will also continue to provide COVID-19 testing to all arena employees prior to each game. Barclays Center has achieved GBAC STAR™ accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities. To read more about the venue’s health and safety measures, please click here.

“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,” said BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi. “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!”

Based on availability, Nets season ticket members and suite holders will be given priority access to the limited number of tickets available for the 2020-21 season. Anyone interested in purchasing tickets to upcoming Nets games is encouraged to visit

On Thursday morning, Abbamondi provided further details to WINS’ Juliet Papa. He said season ticket holders will be “preferred” but there will be lottery for fans who want to purchase single game tickets. There will be seating for families and strategic seating for individuals, Abbamondi added. While the state has approved having a bit more than 1,700 fans at games, Abbamondi told Papa that doesn’t mean there will have that many people in the stands.

At his media availability prior to Wednesday’s Pacers game, Steve Nash welcomed the prospect.

“It’s great and it’s exciting to be able to a little slice of normalcy,” Nash said. “I think it is great for the fans, for the players, and great for the organization and the community. It’s a win all around and I have no doubt the league will make it as safe and thoughtful as possible in a manageable way.”

“I think it does help,” Nash said when asked if having only 1,800 fans in the building. “It’s tough to play four games a week and not to have that element and electricity in the building. It is obviously 10 percent, which isn’t a packed house, but I think it is a little boost. At least the players can enjoy the experience a little more and make the season a little less monotonous.”

Anthony Puccio broke the news Tuesday night. He tweeted what he’d been told about the plan for Nets games, the first word that the change was imminent.

Of course, Barclays Center hasn’t had fans this season at all and not since the pandemic shut down the NBA back in early March 2020. Nearly a dozen NBA teams have permitted fans, if on a small scale, to attend games, but New York state and city pandemic restrictions had been among the nation’s toughest. Until recently, no county in the U.S. has had as many deaths as Brooklyn. Moreover, mobile morgues across the street from the Nets practice facility are a daily reminder of how bad things were ... and could be again.

Why would New York move now? Vaccinations are on the rise and there’s been a roughly 50 percent downturn in the seven-day averages for new cases over the last month ... both locally and nationally.