For the first time since the pandemic, nearly 2,000 people were authorized to fill the aisles of the legendary Madison Square Garden hall in New York for an NBA game.
“Life is always good when you’re in the Garden”: Tuesday, Anthony Donahue was back, with some 2,000 privileged people, in the mythical room of Madison Square Garden for the first time in nearly a year to see his dear Knicks, who nevertheless lost. It has been 352 days since no spectator was able to attend an event in the “World’s Most Famous Arena”, the most famous arena in the world, located in central Manhattan, due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Tonnage limited to 10% and a strict sanitary protocol
Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that theaters of more than 10,000 people could once again welcome the public, starting Tuesday, with a limit of 10% and a strict sanitary protocol. Several NBA halls already welcome audiences in other cities in the United States, including Miami, Phoenix or Houston. “The Garden is more than a room. It’s life, for many of us, ”enthuses Anthony Donahue, who has missed almost no game of his team since his first visit, at age 10, in the mid-90s. Nets also welcomed the public on Tuesday for the first time this season, but had chosen to limit the gauge to around 300 spectators, much less than the approximately 2,000 who will be at the Garden. The club will maintain this level for three matches, mainly reserved for subscribers, before gradually rising to 10%, or around 1,770 spectators, a spokesperson told AFP.
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“Even with 300 people, people are going to be so excited that the energy will be palpable,” promised Rich Schaefer, season ticket to the Nets, whom he has followed since childhood, when they were still playing in New Jersey. . For the first time, the Brooklyn public had the opportunity to see two of its three jewels evolve together, Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Kevin Durant having been left to rest. “It’s historic. It’s huge, ”said Rich Schaefer. “We’ve never seen anything like it.” Untouchable at the moment, the Nets have thus chained Tuesday their seventh success in a row, against the Sacramento Kings (127-118).
At the Garden, the Knicks gave in to the Golden State Warriors (114-106) and will have to whip until the end of the season to win a ticket for the playoffs, which would be their first for eight years. But it took more to sober up Anthony Donahue, who arrived in the room wearing a sweater, jacket, chain, mask and cap in the colors of his favorite team. “The Garden has been my home all these years,” says this fan of a team that hasn’t been champions since 1973. “Even when the Knicks don’t win, life is still good when you’re at the Garden”.
A negative PCR test of less than 72 hours required at the entrance
The evening will have had a bittersweet flavor, as Anthony was deprived of his sister, Gianna Gregoire, who died of a brain tumor in August. “I know she is there with me in thought and she will guide me tonight,” said the thirty-something, whose sister was also a Knicks fan, whom she would see 10 to 15 times a year. As a season ticket holder for about 20 years, Anthony Donahue has benefited from priority access to precious tickets, the “MSG” usually being able to accommodate up to 19,800 spectators in basketball configuration. Spectators were required to present with a negative PCR test not older than 72 hours. To make sure not to miss anything, Anthony Donahue arrived three hours before the start of the meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. (00:30 GMT Wednesday).
At Barclays Center, spectators who had already taken a test before arriving were even given a quick test again once in the hall. In the background, a prevention message looped around the enclosure. For a year, living the pandemic, the disease and the death of his sister without being able to relax in the mythical lair of Madison Square Garden has been “horrible”, recognizes Anthony Donahue. “The Knicks and my sister, that’s really all I’ve been close to my heart for 20 years.”