NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York sports fans will soon be able to go watch their teams in-person for the first time in nearly a year. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced during his press briefing Wednesday that the state’s large stadiums and arenas will be able to open with limited capacity later this month.

The Brooklyn Nets will be among the first to welcome back fans under the new model for their Feb. 23 game against the Sacramento Kings at Barclays Center. Any fans hoping to attend will have to produce a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before attending. Once in the arena, they will be assigned socially-distant seating.

“While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently and in a balanced way,” Cuomo said. “Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus. Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people’s lives as safely as possible.”

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Venues that have a capacity of at least 10,000 will be allowed to open with 10% capacity limits as of Feb. 23. For the Nets, whose arena holds a capacity of 17,700, it means that about 1,700 fans will be allowed to attend. Barclays Center has already obtained approval from the state’s Department of Health to re-open.

Other arenas, including Madison Square Garden and Nassau Coliseum, will have to ensure that they meet all DOH requirements before re-opening the arena to fans. Those requirements include:

  • Obtain DOH approval for both venues and events
  • Institute a 10 percent capacity limit in arenas and stadiums
  • Ensure all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event
  • Mandate face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks for all those in attendance
  • Mandate assigned, socially distanced seating
  • Collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts
  • Meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards
  • Ensure retail, food services and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance

Following Cuomo’s announcement at the press conference, the New York Islanders tweeted out a statement saying that they “look forward to welcoming back the best fans in hockey back to the Coliseum.” The Islanders statement says that tickets, when they are made available, will go first to season ticket holders.

CBSNewYork Team