The upcoming 2020-21 NBA season will look quite a bit different than the one before it, at least at the beginning. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the league was forced to play in an NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando for the end of its regular season and entirety of the 2020 playoffs.
Since Covid is still impacting the world, the NBA has taken plenty of measures in order to ensure the safety of the players, coaching staff, arena staff, and fans alike. A few speculative options for the beginning of the season, which starts on December 22nd, are that some arena suites would be open at a 25-50% capacity, based on local laws, with protocols such as masks, social distancing, and testing in place in order to ensure safety.
This blog will track which NBA teams will allow fans in 2020-21 and how many fans will be allowed. We’ll update it regularly as league protocols are updated, and hopefully, fans are able to attend games with a normal, pre-Covid capacity once the promising vaccines have helped get the country on a safer path.
How Will NBA Seating Work Under Reduced Capacity?
As fan attendance is prioritized by NBA teams this season only behind fan and player safety, seating capacity at NBA venues will be greatly reduced from their normal sellout crowds, at least to begin the 2020-21 NBA season. Venues that will allow fans to catch a game to see their favorite NBA team play in person will have fans sitting in pods, which are socially-distanced and safe limited groups of fans that will only be sitting with the ones they came with.
Existing season ticket holders will be among the first to have the opportunity to purchase pods, and tickets will be sold by the teams and secondary marketplaces like TickPick in specific pod quantities of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, etc. that allow groups of essentially any size to find tickets to their team’s home game that allow them to all sit together at a safe physical distance from other groups of fans within the venue.
Pods cannot be split up to accommodate groups of people who did not come to the game together, and fans will not be at risk of coming into contact with other pods while in their seats at the game.
What Safety Measures Should I Be Aware of This Season?
The league has plenty of safety protocols in place to protect all people inside the arena during this upcoming season, as was first reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. First and foremost, all fans above the age of 2 will be required to wear a mask throughout the game, without exception. Fans will also be required to take symptom surveys prior to entering the arena, and food and beverages will not be allowed within 30 feet of the court. Teams will all have the options to install plexiglass behind benches.
Testing wouldn’t be required for fans for arena suites at 25% capacity or less this season and teams would be allowed to increase their fan capacity up to 50% if all fans were tested or if the local county’s positivity rate is 3% or below and the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 residents is fewer than 10.
NBA Teams and Their Fan Capacities