Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has increased the maximum capacity limit on indoor events to 25%, with outdoor venues also able to open at 50% capacity in a boost to the state’s major-league sports teams.
Governor Wolf announced earlier this month that indoor events would be restricted to 15% capacity and outdoor venues limited to 20%, but a decline in COVID-19 cases and an increase in vaccinations has led to restrictions being eased.
The new restrictions will come into effect from April 4 and will enable Pennsylvania’s two Major League Baseball teams, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburgh Pirates, to welcome a significant proportion of fans back to Citizens Bank Park and PNC Park (pictured), respectively.
The 50% outdoor capacity limit also provides a boost to Major League Soccer team Philadelphia Union, which will be able to welcome around 9,000 fans to Subaru Park.
Wells Fargo Center, home of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team and the Philadelphia Flyers NHL ice hockey franchise, will also be free to open at 25% capacity under the new guidelines. The NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins could also welcome up to 4,600 fans to PPG Paints Arena next month.
In other news, MLB’s Washington Nationals has detailed plans to begin the 2021 season at Nationals Park with a reduced capacity of 5,000. The announcement follows discussion and planning with the Government of the District of Columbia, health experts and MLB.
The Nationals will prioritise bringing season plan holders to the ballpark first. The team said it looks forward to increasing capacity in the coming weeks.
MLS team D.C. United also welcomed the announcement from Muriel Bowser, Mayor of Washington D.C., that teams in the city can operate “pursuant to waiver with plans for fans”. The team is in communication with the Mayor’s Office as it plans to begin the season with fans at a reduced capacity.
Meanwhile, Scotiabank Arena, home of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, has become the first sports and entertainment arena in Canada to earn the WELL Health-Safety Rating through the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI).
The arena said the certification marks an important step as it prepares to welcome fans back. The Raptors, the NBA’s only Canadian team, are currently playing games at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida due to ongoing border restrictions.
The Maple Leafs are playing home games at Scotiabank Arena and the WELL rating boosts the team’s chances of welcoming fans back in the near future.
Elsewhere, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts promotion has detailed plans for a full-capacity event at Jacksonville’s 15,000-seat VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena on April 24.
UFC 261 will feature three title fights: Kamaru Usman vs Jorge Masvidal, Valentina Shevchenko vs Jessica Andrade, and Zhang Weili vs Rose Namajunas. It will mark the first time that UFC has staged an event at a full-capacity arena since the onset of the pandemic.
A limited number of fans were able to attend UFC events at the new Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi back in January.