NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Fans, some at least, are being welcomed back into arenas in New York City.

CBS2’s Alice Gainer was at Barclays Center on Monday with a preview and on Tuesday she checked out the COVID-19 protocols in place at Madison Square Garden.

About 2,000 thousand fans were allowed inside MSG on Tuesday night for the Knicks game against the Golden State Warriors.

READ MORE: Gov. Cuomo Says New York Sports Arenas, Stadiums Can Open At 10% Capacity Starting Feb. 23

The Garden has pods consisting of two seats. Season ticket members and suite members get first dibs and then the general public. Prices begin at $50.

To get inside, even if vaccinated, you must present confirmation of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours, take a health survey and get a temperature check.

You’re assigned a specific entrance based on your seat and doors open 90 minutes before tip-off.

“I think they’ve been extremely cautious. I think they took the right steps for safety, so I’m not concerned at all about my safety. I feel 100% safe,” one Knicks fan said.


Meanwhile, nearby businesses are hoping some fans will stop in before the game.

“This is our first day back open,” said Kerry Agate, general manager of Stout.

The establishment on 33rd Street closed in December when indoor dining was suspended. But now that reduced capacity indoor dining is back, Stout has timed its re-opening with MSG allowing fans back.

“Because it’s such a big part of our life — Madison Square Garden, Penn Station — we wanted to start off with them and see where we go from there,” Agate said.

Watch Alice Gainer’s report — 

Stout’s sister restaurant next door has been closed since last March and plans to open Friday.

“We get super crazy for Rangers games and we’re excited for Thursday or Friday is their first game,” Agate said.

To the left of Stout is The Celtic Rail, which has also been closed since last March but has plans to open Monday. Owner Michael Higgins isn’t as optimistic that business will be decent with MSG allowing some fans now.

“Right now, with 10%, I don’t believe so, but if they jump that number up to 20, 30% …,” Higgins said.

But he remains hopeful.

“Come for the burgers once we open,” Higgins said.

Everything inside MSG is touchless, including digital tickets and cashless payments for food.


As CBS2’s John Dias reported, it has been almost a year since the Barclays Center advertised a game open to the public.

“I think it’s a little too soon,” Park Slope resident Amy Grimm told Dias.

“It’s great. It’s good to have sports back. It’s been too long,” Downtown Brooklyn resident Scott Brown said.

MORE: CBS2 Gets Look Inside Barclays Center As Nets Set To Welcome Some Fans Back On Tuesday

The Nets took on the Sacramento Kings there on Tuesday night.

Fans must complete a PCR at-home test sent to them within 72 hours and an online questionnaire. Then, a second rapid antigen test at the arena, along with a temperature check.

Stadium seats have been marked off in pairs or fours, while other spots are set up in pods.

“We’ve been referring to these as our living rooms. We built 10 of these,” BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi said.

Erika Byrnes wanted to take her son, Asher, but couldn’t find tickets.

“We wanted to be here opening day. We thought it would be exciting to do,” she said. “We’ll be there when we can.”

The arena only allowed a few hundred fans in Tuesday, working its way up to the 1,800 limit allowed.

Those in attendance were hungry for live sports.

Sam Frankfort’s young son was bouncing with excitement.

“Amazing. So happy to be here and ready for the world to get back to some normalcy, let the kids enjoy, so we’re about, we’re going to see the future champs,” Frankfort told CBS2’s Nick Caloway.

“It was nice to see. It was a good feel. It’s still a little empty, of course, because of COVID guidelines, but overall, I enjoyed it. A win,” Nets fan Tyki Irving said.

In all arenas, fans must wear face coverings at all times, unless eating or drinking.

The excitement reached over to Manhattan, where the Empire State Building was lit up in black and white to celebrate the Nets welcoming fans back in person.

Basketball fans watching at home will still be hearing fake crowd noise pumped in through the speakers. In fact, the artificial cheering was often drowning out the actual fans who were in attendance.


Meanwhile, New Jersey plans to follow New York’s lead.

Gov. Phil Murphy said starting March 1, entertainment venues with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or more can reopen at 10% capacity indoors or 15% outdoors.

CBS2’s John Dias, Alice Gainer and Nick Caloway contributed to this report

CBSNewYork Team