On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made a major announcement for the state regarding fans at sporting events. Murphy declared that professional and major collegiate games will soon be able to welcome in fans, though the capacity will still need to be limited. The change will go into place on March 1.
He made the announcement during an interview on WFAN that sports venues with a capacity over 5,000 can allow a small percentage of fans to attend games. Indoor facilities will be able to have 10% capacity while outdoor facilities will be permitted to have 15% capacity.
The New Jersey Devils will be able 10% of their 16,514 capacity starting next week, which would be around 1,650 fans. The team is currently in season and is scheduled to welcome back fans when they play the New York Islanders at home.
Devils president Jake Reynolds expressed his excitement, saying, “This is a day toward which our entire staff has been planning, working, and looking forward to for the past 11 months.”
The games will have protocols to help ensure the safety of all involved as well as the safety of the community.
“Those who enter the building will feel confident that our process and protocols are focused on making their safety the number one priority. That includes maximizing social distancing, minimizing contact, and using products and technology to ensure the wellbeing, safety, and enjoyment of our fans and attendees,” Reynolds said. “The fan’s journey has been developed to provide consumer confidence from the street to the seat, and we can’t wait to feel their energy welcome them back to the Prudential Center to cheer and celebrate Devils’ victories in person.”
Since MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets, is an outdoor facility it is allowed to have 15% capacity at events. The Jets and Giants do not begin their 2021 regular season until September.
The Jets and Giants put out a joint statement on the news, saying:
“As the months go on, we are hopeful that the data will continue to be positive and the number of people allowed into MetLife Stadium will steadily increase. The health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and those in our communities remain our top priority and we will continue to follow the guidance of Governor Murphy and state health officials. We missed seeing our loyal fans at stadium events this past year and are excited to welcome them back in 2021.”
The change impacts colleges as well.
Seton Hall issued a statement on the matter and announced they hope to have fans in attendance on March 3 when the Pirates men’s basketball team hosts the University of Connecticut at the Prudential Center.
Rutgers released a statement saying it “will increase spectator capacity at its venues effective immediately. Two parents or guardians of each Rutgers student-athlete will be permitted to attend sporting events held on campus, while the total number of spectators are not to exceed 35 percent of the venue’s total capacity.”
“Additionally, beginning March 1, indoor facilities with a fixed-seating capacity of over 5,000 people will be allowed to operate at 10 percent of its total capacity and 15 percent for outdoor venues. Despite this increase, Rutgers Athletics will abide by the Big Ten Conference requirement that fan attendance be limited to the four tickets allotted to each coach and student-athlete for family members only.”
Fans have not been allowed at games in New Jersey since March of 2020, when new health and safety measures were put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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