By Matthew Basile
Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo announced on Feb. 10 that arenas and stadiums in the state could soon host fans again. The date for opening arenas to fans is set for Feb. 23, and along with this plan comes guidelines to ensure public safety.
According to CBS, the guidelines are the following:
- Limit of 10% capacity of the stadium or arena for venues with capacities over 10,000 people.
- Standard social distancing and mask wearing practices.
- Mandatory assigned seating with the appropriate socially distanced spacing.
- A negative PCR test within 72 hours of the event.
Considering New York City is still seeing an average of more than 4,000 cases per day, according to the New York Times, it might not seem like the right time for these recreational restrictions to be lifted. However, a recent assessment of these guidelines in the state proved to make for a safe experience for fans.
Gov. Cuomo first considered having fans return to stadiums when the Buffalo Bills made the NFL playoffs. The Bills would have been hosting their first playoff game in 25 years and are known for their die-hard fans if Cuomo gave it the green light.
“I personally don’t believe it’s worth the risk right now,” said J.P. Tarantino, a senior physics major. “I always think to myself, ‘have things really changed since they were last open?’ I believe the answer is no. These events have the potential to be super spreader events like the snowball fight that took place recently at TCNJ. I understand those events are different, but it just shows that the virus can still spread quickly in settings we might think of as safe.”
Although there were concerns coming from Tarantino and like-minded people, Cuomo allowed for about 10% of capacity to be filled as long as each attendant had tested negative for Covid-19 a few days earlier. Social distancing guidelines were adhered to and masks were required.
After the event, it was determined that it would be safe for fans to attend events under these guidelines and that the risk of spreading Covid-19 was very low. It was this success that inspired Cuomo to introduce this new opportunity for sports this spring.
“Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state,” Cuomo said.
With the success of the Bill’s game and the announced date for opening arenas, New York sports teams are preparing to have fans at their home games.
“I would want to (attend games in stadiums), but I feel as if it would just be too expensive with only 10% fans,” said Connor Conyngham, a junior civil engineering major. “So I would wait until they open stadiums more and have more tickets available.”
Currently, New York’s cases have had a decline since the brink of the new year. Because of this, experts note that if New York can keep this trend, that restrictions will start to be lifted in a timely manner and more places can reopen.
“I don’t plan on going to any basketball games this year because New York is so far from campus, but I am excited to go to baseball games no matter what the capacity or rule is after this semester,” said sophomore economics major Michael Marmolejos.