Fans to return to California arenas

Indoor sports arenas in California will be able to welcome back a limited number of spectators this month after state restrictions on fan attendance eased.

From April 15, NHL and NBA venues in the state will be permitted to admit a percentage of fans, with capacity limits to vary depending on the county.

Up to 20% capacity will be permitted for venues with a capacity of more than 1,500 in areas currently in the red tier of California’s COVID-19 alert system. Limits will be less strict in areas where the COVID-19 infection rate is not as high.

The news comes as a boost to California’s NBA and NHL teams, which last welcomed fans to their home arenas over a year ago. Los Angeles’ Staples Center, which is home to the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers, the NHL’s Kings and WNBA’s Sparks, will be among the venues set to reopen.

In a statement, the Lakers said the team would work with Staples Center and LA County Public Health to finalise plans for fans’ return, starting with the game against the Boston Celtics on April 15. The Clippers will look to have fans in the stands for the April 18 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Kings will have fans back for the April 20 game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Elsewhere in the NBA, the Golden State Warriors welcomed the state announcement and the team hopes to reveal specific details on fan attendance at Chase Center shortly. The Sacramento Kings also expressed excitement about the return of supporters to Golden 1 Center BUT have so far not detailed specific plans for fan attendance.

In the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks will welcome fans to Honda Center for the April 16 game against the Vegas Golden Knights, while the San Jose Sharks have not finalised plans for the return of fans to SAP Center.

The easing of restrictions for indoor venues comes after limits on outdoor attendance were lifted last month ahead of the start of the Major League Baseball season on April 1.

Image: Elmar78