In time for the playoffs beginning this weekend, the Knicks and Nets have been freed up to drastically increase arena capacity at Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, respectively.
In a news conference at Radio City Music Hall, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that with 50% of the arenas are being set aside for fully vaccinated fans with no need for social distancing. Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan estimated the Knicks would be able to bring approximately 13,000 fans into the arena.
"What was already an incredibly exciting time around Knicks basketball has just gotten even more exciting — and we'd like to thank Governor Cuomo for making it happen," Dolan said. "All of those fans for Knicks playoff games are going to be loud, they're going to be passionate and they're going to be ready. The Garden is going to rock. We hope the team gives all of New York something to cheer about, and that this marks the start of a busy summer for the growing number of vaccinated people who can now begin to enjoy more opportunities to celebrate together — at our venues and beyond."
BSE Global CEO John Abbamondi said, "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."
The teams had been operating at 10% of capacity in the regular season, a number that was expected rise for the playoffs. Already, the number of Garden fans has jumped to 5,700. But the new rule, following the new CDC guidelines, has escalated that drastically.
The Nets will host the seventh seed in the opening round, an opponent who will be determined in Tuesday night’s play-in game between Boston and Washington.
The Knicks, who surprisingly took the No. 4 seed in the East, will host the Atlanta Hawks in Games 1 and 2, with times and dates to be determined.
"I know it's been a long time," Dolan said. "Believe me, I know it's been a long time. People tell me every day. But we're back. We're in the playoffs. It couldn't come at a better time for New York. I hope our team does well and I hope we lift the spirits of NY.
"Any of you who know about basketball know about the concept of the sixth man and the home court. We've been missing our sixth man and we've done as well we've done without our sixth man. But we're getting our sixth man back for the playoffs, so we're going to be even better."
For the vaccinated sections, fans must show full proof of COVID-19 immunization status, which can be provided through paper form, digital application or New York State’s Excelsior Pass.
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. Appropriate social distancing, masks and other applicable health protocols will still apply throughout the arenas.
WHAT TO KNOW
In accordance with new CDC regulations Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced arenas can increase capacity in time for the NBA playoffs.
50% of the arena will be set aside for fully vaccinated fans, allowing the fans to be seated shoulder to shoulder and providing the ability to put approximately 13,000 fans into Madison Square Garden and slightly less at Barclays Center.
For the vaccinated sections fans must show full proof of COVID-19 immunization status, which can be provided through paper form, digital application or New York State’s Excelsior Pass. 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.