Finally!! Some good news. Celtics and Bruins fans will be able to see their teams play in person for the first time in over a year. TD Garden is opening up their venue to 12% capacity starting March 23rd for the Bruins and March 29th for the Celtics.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday that large venues will allow fans at a limited capacity starting next month. While The Garden will be admitting customers first, this decision will open up Fenway Park’s and Gillette Stadium’s gates as well when their seasons begin.
Limited fans > no fans
At 12% capacity, the Garden will be permitting just over 2,000 fans each game. The exact number will be slightly different for each team, as the arena holds a different capacity for both organizations.
According to Jared Weiss of The Athletic, the Celtics will have, approximately 2,352 fans in attendance.
The number will be slightly smaller for the Bruins. According to Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, 2,108 Bruins, fans will be able to get into the venue.
Fans will have to follow rules
To no one’s surprise, the Garden will implement safety protocols for admitted viewers.
The arena will mandate fans wear masks, except when eating or drinking at their seat. Pods of viewers will have to be 6 feet apart when seated, inline, when entering and leaving the arena. The arena will assign spectators a specific gate to enter through and stay on their side of the arena.
We are coming up on a year since Boston took in a live sporting event. The Bruins last had fans on March 7th, the Celtics on March 8th.
Questions and concerns?
While it is phenomenal that fans will be admitted back into venues, a few questions remain. How much will ticket prices be, and what percentage of tickets will be for season ticket holders?
With every sports team taking a bath on revenue the last year with the lack of spectators, it is conceivable that prices will be inflated as an attempt to dig into the deficit. However, owners should be careful with this.
It would be a brutal public relations maneuver to gouge your fan-base when so many have experienced hard times financially. Increasing the price is reasonable when not many people can be in attendance. It is a business after all. But hiking prices a couple of hundred percentages would be a bad move.
Now is not the time for owners to just see fans as the bottom line. They should see them as valuable parts of the organization. If the last year taught the sports world anything, it is that fans are an irreplaceable component of live sporting events.
The other pressing question at this time is what percentage of fans in attendance will be season ticket holders? On a Celtics ticket interest form, it was stated that season ticket holders will have priority on available tickets.
It will be interesting how many STH want to go back right away compared to those who are waiting for a larger percentage of fans. While the teams should cater those loyal customers, hopefully, there is still a decent chance for non-STH to get into the Garden if they desire.
Light at the end of the tunnel
However those two factors break down, it is just thrilling that fans will be allowed back next month. It has been such a long time since we have been able to indulge in one of the region’s favorite past times. When we all are allowed back into the Garden, Fenway, and Gillette, we certainly will not take the experience for granted.
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones
Photo courtesy of NBC Sports Boston