Coronavirus Update New York City: Barclays Center, MSG welcome Nets, Knicks fans Tuesday

Coronavirus update for NYC

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Barclays Center, MSG welcome back Nets, Knicks fans for 1st time
Josh Einiger has more on the return of the fans at Barclays and MSG for the first time since the pandemic started.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks hosted their first home games with fans in nearly a year at Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden, respectively, Tuesday night, as coronavirus restrictions ease in New York.

The arenas have been used for voting over the past year, but otherwise, it's been quiet.

That wasn't the case Tuesday night where there was a celebration for opening night -- COVID style.

"I feel like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I got the golden ticket!" said Nets fan Luther Lufay.

It was more like a ticket to history as he was among the first fans allowed inside Barclays in almost a year.

RELATED | Nets, Knicks, Rangers to welcome fans back to Barclays, MSG with restrictions

CeFaan Kim has more on the reopening of Barclays Center for sporting events.

Any arena in the state with more than 10,000 seats can now allow guests back inside at 10% capacity, with added safety precautions.

Those include a mandatory PCR test from each attendee within 72 hours of game time.

At the Barclays Center, the Nets are providing a free rapid test to anyone who walks through the door. Once inside, you'll find assigned socially distanced seating.

There will be three main seating areas, each divided into pods of two or four fans each.

"You will have a QR code that you will have on your phone," Barclays Center General Manager Adina Erwin said. "And you will be able to look at the menu, order your food, and food then will be brought to you. So it's more of an in-seat service."

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The Nets have added NBA star James Harden to the roster this year, and needless to say, he is excited about the development.

"I can't wait, I'm excited," he said. "It's one of the reasons why I wanted to be in Brooklyn, because of the fan base. They're unbelievable. Just to have some excitement, some extra energy in the crowd is going to be exciting, obviously, for the entire team."

The Nets will start with roughly 300 fans, mainly season ticket holders, before ramping up to 1,800 people in the stands after the all-star break, while MSG will open with about 2,000 fans for the team's game against the Golden State Warriors.

David Perlmutter, who has been a Knicks fan since 1992 and a season ticket holder since 2005, attended the game with his 6-year-old son.

"I was a little kid last night," he said. "I didn't sleep, I couldn't wait for today to show up to go to the game tonight. It's going to be amazing. The safety protocols that they're taking and making everyone tested temperature checks, social distancing, all that makes me...feel very comfortable and safe. I feel privileged to be able to attend, but it's going to be weird. It's going to be quieter than it's ever been. It's going to be a sort of a stark reality to the seriousness that we're in now. But I am excited and I'm looking forward to it."

New Jersey isn't far behind New York, allowing fans inside starting Monday, with 10% capacity indoors and 15% capacity outdoors beginning March 1.

Meanwhile, New Yorkers are getting another option for entertainment as well.

Movie theaters are allowed to reopen at 25% capacity starting next week after having been closed for nearly a year.

Masks and assigned seating will be required.

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