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Fans are eager to return to KeyBank Center to watch the Buffalo Sabres.
Fans are eager to return to KeyBank Center to watch the Buffalo Sabres.
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Cuomo: Sports & entertainment events in major stadiums, arenas can reopen with limited spectators beginning Feb. 23

Wed, Feb 10th 2021 03:00 pm

Events permitted to reopen in arenas and stadiums with a capacity of 10,000 people or more

Using the Buffalo Bills Pilot Program as a Model, Facilities Will Be Required to Follow Similar Operational Guidelines in Order to reopen

Says success of this initiative to help inform future reopening of smaller venues

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced that, building off of the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, sports and entertainment events in major stadiums and arenas with a capacity of 10,000 or more people can reopen with limited spectators beginning Feb. 23.

Following the model established as part of the successful Buffalo Bills pilot program, venues and events must follow similar guidelines, including Department of Health approval for venues and events, capacity limitations, testing requirements, mandatory face coverings, temperature checks, and assigned, socially distanced seating.

The Department of Health's work to inspect eligible venues statewide is already underway and, thanks to that work, the Barclays Center has been approved to reopen Feb. 23 for the Brooklyn Nets home game against the Sacramento Kings. The success of this, and similar events in approved venues over the coming weeks, will help inform the reopening process for smaller venues in the future.

"While we continue to fight COVID on multiple fronts, we must also get this economy reopened intelligently and in a balanced way," Cuomo said. "Live sports and entertainment have long been engrained in the fabric of New York, and the inability to hold events has only added to the isolation we have all felt at the hands of this virus. Thankfully, our pilot program to reopen Buffalo Bills games to fans was an unparalleled success and now we are taking that model and expanding it to other large venues across the state to not only reinvigorate local economies, but also help bring some fun and joy back into people's lives as safely as possible."

(Image courtesy of the Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo)


Specifically, in order to reopen venues to professional sports, sites must:

√ Obtain DOH approval for both venues and events

√ Institute a 10% capacity limit in arenas and stadiums

√ Ensure all staff and spectators receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of the event

√ Mandate face coverings, social distancing and temperature checks for all those in attendance

√ Mandate assigned, socially distanced seating

√ Collect contact information from all those in attendance to help inform contact tracing efforts

√ Meet enhanced air filtration, ventilation and purification standards

√ Ensure retail, food services and athletic activities abide by all state-issued guidance

The Buffalo Bills were allowed to have 6,700 fans in their Orchard Park stadium for each of their two home playoff games last month.

Locally, this news could mean the return of fans to Buffalo Sabres hockey games. The team tweeted:

"Gov. Cuomo's announcement providing the opportunity to allow Sabres fans back to KeyBank Center is a great step forward. 

"We continue to work closely with the New York State and Erie County Departments of Health to ensure a safe, healthy and fan-friendly environment to enjoy Sabres hockey.

“Ticketing information and game-day safety protocols will be announced as they become available."

While most live music venues would not meet the criteria to reopen at this time, Artpark in Lewiston could make a case to be included. Though its Mainstage Theater has less than half of the required audience capacity, its outdoor amphitheater is capable of holding 10,000 people.

Cuomo didn’t include the words “amphitheater” or “outside” in his announcement, but he has been more flexible with regard to limitations on such events – see the Buffalo Bills games and the recent announcement of popup entertainment as examples.

Artpark & Company Vice President of Concerts & Marketing Dave Wedekindt said, “At this point we can offer that we are planning to have outdoor events this summer, and are reassured by the governor's recent announcement that positive progress is being made. We continue to work closely with NYS officials and will share updates as we are able.”

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