The Brooklyn Nets will be hosting home game fans as soon as Feb. 23, and a portion of ticket sales will go to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in Brooklyn, Nets management said Wednesday.
The announcement followed Governor Andrew Cuomo announcement that sports and entertainment events held at stadiums with at least a 10,000 person capacity will be allowed a limited number of fans in attendance starting Feb. 23.
Coincidentally, the Nets have a home game against the Kings that day, which will be the first of the season to allow fans at 10% capacity.
CEO of BSE Global John Abbamondi thanked Cuomo and the Department of Health for collaborating with the team in creating a robust health and safety plan that allowed fans to return to the arena. He also pledged an undisclosed portion of ticket sales to vaccination efforts in Brooklyn.
The reopening model is based on the one successfully used by the Buffalo Bills in early January (although the Bills Stadium in Orchard Park, NY is an open air venue). The success of this approach will dictate whether or not smaller venues will reopen for spectators in the future.
"While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy re-opened intelligently and in a balanced way," Cuomo said.
"Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success."
This announcement comes just days before Cuomo's plan to reopen indoor dining at 25% capacity goes into effect on February 12. It also came the same day Mayor Bill De Blasio said Barclays Center could be used as a COVID-19 vaccination site. It is unclear whether these two initiatives will have any impact on each other.
While positive COVID-19 test results in New York City have decreased by around 20% in the past two weeks, the state still has the fifth highest rate of cases per capita in the country. The day of the announcement, 168 New Yorkers died of the virus.
Under the plan laid out by the governor, events will require fans to provide a negative P.C.R. test, wear mandatory face coverings, remain in socially distanced seating and be subject to temperature checks. All venues will be required to get approval from the Department of Health prior to allowing fans.
For now, it seems the Nets will be the only Brooklyn team affected by the measure. The New York Liberty's WNBA season does not yet have a scheduled start date and the annual Atlantic 10 men's college basketball tournament has already been relocated.
It also remains unlikely concerts will be able to commence under this limited capacity. "At 10 percent, everyone will lose money," New York-area promoter John Scher told the New York Times.
There is hope among the theater industry, however, that shows will be able to allow spectators. Earlier this month, Cuomo announced NY PopsUp, which will organize over 300 free shows in 100 days, starting on February 20.
The shows will include big names, such as Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Billy Porter, and more. The shows' outdoor locations will not be disclosed ahead of time to prevent crowding. Eventually, the governor hopes to use indoor venues.
Those interested can follow @NYPopsUp for more information.