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Arena capacities expand as NBA playoffs approach

Atlanta HawksWith the end of the 2020-2021 NBA season at hand, teams are planning ahead for arena operations for the playoffs and determining expanded seating capacities.

Almost every team potentially in the playoffs is admitting fans to arenas, whether it be the 37 percent capacity for Utah Jazz games at Vivint Arena or the 35 percent capacity allowed at Chase Center for Golden State Warriors games–a level allowed only for the last nine games of the regular season–or the 25 percent capacity finally allowed into United Center, beginning May 7, for Chicago Bulls games.

However, not every NBA playoff team will potentially have fans in the stands: The Portland Trail Blazers still are not allowing fans into Moda Center. However, capacities are being reexamined on a regular basis, and in many cases–as in the aforementioned instances with Warriors and Bulls–capacity limitations are being lifted.

That’s certainly the case with the Atlanta Hawks, announced plans to increase attendance for postseason play to 7,625 fans, approximately 45 percent of State Farm Arena’s full capacity. The Hawks opened the 2020-21 season with no fans in attendance before increasing capacity to 1300 fans on Jan. 26 and later increasing to 3000 fans for the second half of the season on March 13.

“We are excited to safely welcome more fans back to State Farm Arena for our postseason run. A significant percentage of our members, staff and fans have been vaccinated and are eager to support our team together as we appear in the postseason for the first time in four years,” said Hawks Chief Executive Officer Steve Koonin via press statement. “We would like to thank for our friends at Emory Healthcare, Sharecare and the Georgia Department of Public Health who advised us on the safest ways to increase capacity.”

The Hawks will offer a 500-person vaccinated fan section, in which fans with proof of vaccination can be seated without social distancing. Additional lower bowl seating will be added to the East side of the building as plexiglass will be added behind player benches and other areas throughout the building for additional safety. Masks will continue to be required for all fans inside the arena. These sections are being used in other sports venues as well; in baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are all offering similar sections.

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