With COVID-19 positivity rates rising in the greater Tampa Bay Area, we will not see fans at Amalie Arena events, including Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL) and Toronto Raptors (NBA) games, for now.
Fans had been allowed at Amalie Arena events–specifically, for Raptors games–and it originally was announced that fans would be allowed for Lightning games after arena officials embarked on International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) certifications and implemented a series of COVID-19 mitigation measures. But with surging numbers in both Florida and Tampa Bay–the state positivity rate was 13.89 percent (far from the 5 percent cited as the mark for safe reopenings)–officials with Vinik Sports Group, which owns and operates the Lightning and Amalie Arena, made the decision to pull the plug on fans until Feb. 5.
The Lightning home season opens Jan. 13. The team was set to be just one of four NHL welcoming fans into arenas (the Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes are the other three), and Amalie Arena was just one of six NBA arenas welcoming fans.
Around 4,000 fans, or roughly 23 percent of capacity, were allowed into Amalie Arena for Raptors games, and there were no reports of issues surrounding fan attendance.
“We have worked tirelessly, putting every safety measure possible in place at Amalie Arena. However, as we review current data and COVID-19 modeling for the next few weeks in the Tampa Bay area, we do not believe it is prudent to admit fans inside the arena at this time,” said Steve Griggs, CEO for Vinik Sports Group, in a press statement. “Please note the decision to close Amalie Arena was made internally, without direction from local health or government officials.”
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