Updated March 19, 2021 - 6:25 pm
The Golden Knights are trying to get creative to fit more fans at T-Mobile Arena.
Team president Kerry Bubolz said Friday the Knights are unable to increase attendance to the maximum 50 percent capacity allowed by the state because of current social distancing requirements.
As a result, the organization is exploring different ways to obtain approval for an expanded gathering size when its plan for April home games is submitted to the state Department of Business and Industry.
“We’re excited that there’s real momentum in our community to start to open up, but we want to be part of the solution doing it in a safe way,” Bubolz said. “If we can have 50 percent, we’re looking at every alternative to get there under the current guidelines. But the 6 foot is the biggest piece that makes this challenging.”
One proposal the Knights are considering includes defined sections or zones of the arena that are for people with proof they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Bubolz emphasized that fans would not be required to have a vaccination to attend a game at T-Mobile Arena.
“You would have to make the request, though, that they are able to be distanced less than 6 feet because they have proof of vaccination,” Bubolz said. “It’s a consideration and a discussion. That’s one tool that we’ve looked at.”
Another option being looked at is fans showing proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of the game. Bubolz cited the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders and New York Rangers as examples within the NHL of teams that require confirmation from a health-care provider of a negative test.
A negative test would not be mandated for admission to a Knights game, Bubolz said, and is an additive measure designed to satisfy the state’s concerns.
“That’s another tool that we could go to the state and say, ‘Look, we want to increase our capacity, but to do that we would look at these other options. But people would have to be able to sit closer,’” Bubolz said. “If 6 foot is a hard-and-fast rule, then we’re pretty much where we are right now until those guidelines change.”
Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a further relaxation of pandemic-related restrictions March 12 allowing venues for large gatherings to host events at up to 50 percent of capacity.
The Knights were approved for 15 percent capacity at T-Mobile Arena and announced attendance of 2,605 for both games against Minnesota at the start of the month. That increased to announced crowds of 3,473 for the two-game series against San Jose on Monday and Wednesday.
The minor league Silver Knights are set to host fans at Orleans Arena for the first time Saturday when they host San Jose.
Bubolz noted the fixed seating inside the arenas makes it more difficult to demonstrate to the state that proper social distancing is being maintained.
“We don’t have a venue that allows us to open more walls and spread people out more and get more capacity like a convention hall. That would be my best example,” Bubolz said. “With a convention hall, you can open a wall and spread people out and still have 6 feet and get more capacity in a venue. We’re locked.”