Madison Square Garden will begin welcoming fans back this week, as its sports teams play to an arena at 10% capacity.
The New York Knicks will play Feb. 23, followed by the New York Rangers on Feb. 26. This is the first time fans have been allowed back into Madison Square Garden in close to a year, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo employs his strategy for reopening venues and restarting the economy.
Cuomo’s strategy uses rapid testing, socially distanced seating and reduced crowd sizes. Reopening sports arenas is a first step in Cuomo’s plan, but earlier this month, Cuomo said he would use a similar strategy to gradually reopen indoor performance venues.
On Monday, Cuomo also announced the reopening of movie theaters at 25% capacity, beginning March 5.
However, this strategy may not work on Broadway, as leaders have said the financial model of the industry does not allow for socially distanced seating.
The large venue-model applies to arenas with a capacity of 10,000 people or more and allows reopening at 10% capacity, if approved by the state. Attendees must supply a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the game.
“We’re very excited,” Knicks Head Coach Tom Thibodeau said in a press release. “We understand how important our fans are and certainly appreciate all the support that they’ve given us…We’re looking forward to the day when The Garden is full, but we’re excited to have our fans in the building – they’re an important part of our organization.”
The Barclays Center in Brooklyn also plans to reopen to fans this week, albeit at a capacity of less than 2%.