There will be (vaccinated) fans in the stands this year as both the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets prepare for what they hope are lengthy playoff runs.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that fans will be able to pack the stands when the two teams start their postseason run, with no mask mandate or social distance necessary for anyone who has proof of vaccination.
At both the Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, there will also be a section for unvaccinated fans who will have to remain six feet apart and wear masks while vaccinated New Yorkers are cheering shoulder-to-shoulder.
Cuomo said that it will be up to the operators of those arenas what percentage of fans they plan to earmark for vaccinated or unvaccinated fans, though they are expected to lean toward more vaccinated sections to increase the number of fans in attendance.
“It is up to the individual venue, just to be clear, but if I owned the Knicks, I would go higher, and I encourage operators and venues to go higher than 50 percent vaccinated,” he said during a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, May 17 at Radio City Music Hall.
“That is in the private operators’ control, and frankly from the state’s point of view, we want to encourage more people to get vaccinated,” Cuomo continued. “This is another reason to get vaccinated. If the Knicks or Nets say that 60, 75, or 80 percent is for vaccinated people, it’ll get more people in attendance and more people in the arena.”
New York Knicks owner James Dolan said that his team didn’t have a specific plan in place yet, as they had just received news of the updated guidance, but intimated that he’s going to lean more heavily on vaccinated sections for Madison Square Garden, where he expects upwards of 13,000 fans for home games.
“Our fans have been extremely loyal and helped drive the teams’ success. The sixth man has been missing, and we’ve done well without a sixth man, so this is going to be even better, and it’s going to be so much fun and so loud at the Garden,” he said. “This is just another reason to go out and get vaccinated.
" We’re starting to book now … So go today and get vaccinated, so when shows come, and the Knicks make it to the second round, you can come, and we’ll have a seat for you.”
The fourth-seeded Knicks will play the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs, with the second-seeded Nets will play the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards, depending on a play-in game scheduled for Tuesday, May 18.
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