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New York college sports venues can open at reduced capacity on April 2

Stony Brook QB Tyquell Fields gets the pass

Stony Brook QB Tyquell Fields gets the pass off under pressure from the Villanova defense, Saturday, March 6, 2021 at Lavalle Stadium. Credit: George A Faella

College sports are getting fans back in the stands.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced permissions and protocols on Tuesday that will allow spectator attendance at college sporting events across the state beginning April 2.

Indoor arenas that seat more than 1,500 will be able to seat at 10% of capacity, and outdoor stadiums that seat more than 2,500 may seat up to 20% capacity. Spectators will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative test result. Colleges and universities having events at these large-scale venues must coordinate with state and local health departments.

At smaller college sporting venues, two fans per student-athlete will be permitted or state-mandated social-gathering limits of 100 for indoor games and 200 for outdoor games.

Cuomo is making this move with an eye toward stimulating the state economy and in response to the growing number of vaccinated people in New York and declining rates of spread statewide.

"College athletics not only provide opportunities for entertainment and community pride, but also plays a critical role in helping drive local economies," Cuomo said in the announcement. "COVID has had a devastating effect on many aspects of our lives, and college athletics was not immune. While athletes have been able to resume competition in recent months, it hasn't been the same without fans in the stands cheering them on. Thanks to the hard work of New Yorkers, we are now in a place where we can begin allowing them to return to games, as well."

Inside sporting venues, spectators will have to observe social distancing protocols. The availability of concessions will be dictated by state and local health guidance.

"The presence of spectators at sporting events has always been a quintessential part of the collegiate experience — both for the athletes and the students, parents, and community members who root them on," State University of New York chancellor Jim Malatras said. "After COVID robbed our student athletes of these experiences for more than a year, we're thrilled we've been approved in bringing some fans back beginning later this week."

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