Large stadiums and arenas with capacity of 10,000 people or more can reopen starting Feb. 23, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday.
Venues must be preapproved by the state health department and limit attendance to 10% of capacity and attendees must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of the event.
The announcement opens the doors for fans to attend concerts and sporting events across New York. Attendees can expect to wear face coverings, maintain social distancing and receive temperature checks upon entering.
Venues in New York have been silent for almost a year as the state has dealt with the pandemic. Cuomo has slowly been lifting restrictions over the past few weeks as the state’s positivity rate has declined from 8% in early January to 4.3% as of Tuesday.
Cuomo instituted a pilot program for reopening stadiums in January, allowing 6,400 fans to attend two Buffalo Bills NFL playoff games. Contact tracing from those two games have not revealed any significant spread of the virus.
The first event to allow fans in attendance will be a Feb. 23 NBA game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn between the Brooklyn Nets and the Sacramento Kings.
The only facility in Central New York large enough to fit the new guidelines is Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome with a capacity of around 34,000 for basketball and 49,000 for football and lacrosse. The Adirondack Bank Center in Utica has a capacity of 5,700 and the Upstate Medical Arena at The OnCenter War Memorial has a capacity of 8,000. Utica’s Stanley Theater and Syracuse’s Landmark Theatre each have capacity in the 3,000 range, making the return of live music anytime soon unlikely. The university has been planning for the return of fans and will most likely initially allow for students to attend games once given state approval.
The Syracuse men’s basketball team has one home game after Feb. 23, a matchup against the University of North Carolina on March 1. The women’s team has home games scheduled on Feb. 25 and 28 against Boston College and North Carolina State respectively. The first scheduled home lacrosse game is Feb. 27 versus the University of Virginia.