As COVID-19 regulations began loosening up, a crowd was allowed back into the bleachers to cheer on the boys’ basketball team at the first round of CIF-SS playoffs. Photo by Kim Ly.

Sports

Fan capacity increases across the country as COVID-19 cases decline

Professional sports stadiums are slowly returning back to normal and increasing capacity due to the declining COVID-19 cases across the country and the increasing vaccination rates. The National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association seasons are currently ongoing and have some of their teams allowing full capacity, near full capacity or soon…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/tdsondy/" target="_self">Tyler Sonderholzer</a>

Tyler Sonderholzer

June 23, 2021

Professional sports stadiums are slowly returning back to normal and increasing capacity due to the declining COVID-19 cases across the country and the increasing vaccination rates.

The National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association seasons are currently ongoing and have some of their teams allowing full capacity, near full capacity or soon going to reach full capacity. While the National Football League is currently in the offseason, there is optimism most teams will be at full capacity when the season starts in the fall. 

NHL 

The NHL is currently between the second and third rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three American teams and one Canadian team still left in the running. As of now, the Vegas Golden Knights is the only team operating at full capacity. The Boston Bruins previously had full capacity but they were eliminated in the second round by the New York Islanders. The other two American teams are currently operating above 70% capacity and have not said if they will allow more fans if they advance. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens, the only Canadian team remaining, are allowing 2,500 fans in attendance and have not said if they will allow more fans. 

The three Californian teams the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks had a slim attendance during the last month of the regular season. However, the teams have not said unknown if they will allow full capacity when next season begins in the fall. 

MLB

The MLB is nearing the halfway point in the season with eleven teams currently allowing 100% capacity and twelve more teams will follow suit in June and early July. There are seven teams that have not said if and when they will move to full capacity. Every team is playing at their home stadium except the Toronto Blue Jays, who are playing at their minor league affiliate stadium, due to cross-border travel restrictions. 

The five California teams, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, moved to full capacity when the state fully reopened June 15. Fans will still be required to wear masks unless they provide proof of vaccination or a negative test. Masks are not needed when actively drinking or eating. 

NBA

The NBA is in the midst of the second round in the NBA playoffs and only one team, the Atlanta Hawks, is allowing full capacity (The Boston Celtics were near full capacity but were eliminated in the first round). The rest of the playoff teams vary in how many fans they are allowing with the Los Angeles Clippers allowing 6,885 (36.1% capacity) fans to the Brooklyn Nets allowing 14,774 fans (83.3% capacity)

The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers were the only California teams to make it to the playoffs and they allowed above 6,000 fans. The Lakers had 6,022 (33% capacity) fans in attendance in their first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns and the Clippers currently have 6,885 fans in their second-round series against the Utah Jazz.    

NFL  

The NFL is currently in the offseason with most teams planning to have full capacity when the season starts in the fall. There are five teams that have not released their plans for the upcoming seasons. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said back in March that he expects stadiums to have full capacity in the 2021 season. 

The San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers are expected to have full capacity as the state fully reopens June 15. The Rams and Chargers have not said their plans for the upcoming season but the 49ers President, Al Guido, has said the team plans on having full capacity. 

Fountain Valley High School

While FVHS will be returning to full capacity in the fall, it is unclear what the attendance policy will be for students and parents. 

“I do not know [attendance policy] at this time, things have changed so many times in the past year. It is hard to say,” FVHS Athletic Director Roger Holmes said. “Right now, we are hoping the trends continue in the right direction and that we will be as close to ‘normal’ as possible.” 

Overall, as COVID-19 cases decrease, fans are slowly returning to stadiums in pre-pandemic numbers. There is optimism in the sports world that it won’t be long before every stadium in the country will allow full capacity and fans across the country will be able to sit next to and cheer with strangers once again.