In a news conference at Radio City Music Hall Monday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the city’s two basketball arenas can dramatically increase the number of fans allowed for playoff games, with 50 percent of Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden set aside for fully vaccinated fans who will not need to social distance.
“Thanks to the progress New Yorkers have achieved thus far in beating back COVID, the Knicks & Nets will be able to welcome more fans at their home games, which is great news for fans and another encouraging sign of how far we’ve come since the pandemic upended our lives.”
The announcement was accompanied by a tweet from the governor congratulating the Nets and Knicks for making the playoffs and laying out some details.
Congrats to the @nyknicks & @BrooklynNets on making the playoffs!— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) May 17, 2021
At playoff games, at least 50% of seating will be for vaccinated people.
In unvaccinated section, masks & social distancing will be required.
Teams can decide how much of stadium will be a vaccinated section.
Both teams will have home court advantage when the post-season opens Saturday, May 22.
BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi said following the announcement, “We are thrilled that more Nets fans will be able to experience NBA playoffs in person. Fans are crucial in creating the exciting live event atmosphere we know and love, and we are looking forward to having them bring that energy to Barclays Center.”
Barclays Center already has a special entrance for the “fully vaccinated.”
Abbamondi didn’t provide any estimates of how dramatic the increase in fans might be but Knicks boss James Dolan estimated the Knicks capacity could jump to approximately 13,000 fans into the 20,000-seat Garden.
The change follows last week’s new CDC guidance on vaccinated individuals which stated,
“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”
Nearly four million city residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The term, “fully vaccinated” applies to those people who are two weeks beyond their second dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine or J&J’s single shot.
The arenas had been operating at 10 percent of capacity in the regular season, a number that had been expected to rise for the playoffs.
For the vaccinated sections, fans must show full proof of COVID-19 immunization status, which can be provided through the CDC’s paper form provided all those vaccinated, digital application or New York State’s Excelsior Pass.
Newsday reported that young adults and children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine, or under the age of 16 who have not yet been able to be vaccinated, may accompany and be seated with a vaccinated adult in a fully vaccinated section so long as they have received a recent negative COVID-19 test result, which remains required at New York’s large-scale event venues pursuant to the state’s health guidance.
Expect more details on the plan in the following days. The Nets, who grabbed the No. 2 seed Sunday, will play the winner of tonight’s play-in game between the Celtics and Wizards while the Knicks play the Hawks.
- Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center to expand capacity for Knicks and Nets playoff games - Steve Popper - Newsday
- Capacity restrictions eased at NYC venues as others are finally allowed to reopen (Video) - News12
- With new state policy assigning at least 50% of seating for vaccinated fans, arenas can fill up a lot more for the NBA playoffs; but what about concerts? - Norman Oder - Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Report