Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) is targeting crowds of 50,000 per day at Suncorp Stadium for the return of its Magic Round, while the Dallas Mavericks have become the 12th NBA team to have fans back in their home arena.

After debuting in 2019 and being postponed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Magic Round will return in 2021 as a three-day festival featuring 16 teams and eight matches at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

The 2021 Magic Round will take place from May 14-16, with a significant fan attendance being planned in. Like many of Australia’s sports leagues, the NRL has been able to welcome fans back in their numbers with the 2020 Grand Final on October 25 watched by 37,303 spectators following its switch from Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to ANZ Stadium.

Australian Rugby League (ARL) commissioner Kate Jones said: “Magic Round Brisbane really represents a large part of what we missed last year – fans in the stands watching the best entertainment rugby league can offer.

“It’s a festival like no other – 272 players from all 16 of our clubs all in the one venue. There is no sporting event like it in this country. Magic Round Brisbane was such a huge success in 2019 and we will build on it in 2021. It will be the ‘don’t miss’ event for those who enjoy fast-paced and entertaining rugby league combined with entertainment, fun activities and a fan experience like no other.”

Queensland’s Tourism and Sport Minister, Stirling Hinchliffe, added: “Last year was challenging for tourism and events but Queensland’s response to the global COVID-19 pandemic meant were able to stage COVID-safe events sooner and become Australia’s hub of elite sport.

“Events continue to play a big role in our COVID-19 economic recovery with this year’s NRL Magic Round expected to attract more than 29,000 football fans to Queensland and support local jobs by contributing almost A$22m (£12.3m/€14m/$17m) to Brisbane’s visitor economy.”

Meanwhile, the Mavericks have chosen to focus on essential workers as fans returned to American Airlines Center. Some 1,500 vaccinated essential workers, including medical professionals, police, firefighters, food service workers, and others, watched their team defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-122 on Monday.

This strategy will continue for the Mavericks’ next three home games, with tickets being handed out to essential workers and their family members for free. “The Mavs and Mavs Foundation have been committed to supporting our essential workers through PPE and donated meals over the past year, and this is just another way we can say ‘thank you’ for serving us day in and day out,” said Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall, according to NBCDFW

“Hopefully this will be a much-needed break from very hectic and tumultuous schedules.”