Knicks, Nets, Isles return to playoffs with biggest crowds in NY since pandemic


BROOKLYN — Excitement surrounding several arenas ahead of some big playoff games this weekend, where the athletes will play in front of thousands of more fans, tearing capacity limits. 

For the first time since the pandemic, people can pack Barclays Center, without a mask or social distancing. It’s an incentive only if you’re fully vaccinated.

Barclays Center General Manager, Adina Erwin, applauds the state’s efforts to raise capacity limits inside Barclays and Madison Square Garden from 10% to at least 50%.

“It’s really trying to get back to what we all have experienced as that collective togetherness in cheering on our teams, it’s been what’s driving that and I think people are hungry for it,” said Erwin.

Unvaccinated fans can still watch their teams play live on the hardcourt, but plan on paying more for a ticket, and you’ll be assigned a designated unvaccinated section.

The Garden is bracing for 15,000 fans Sunday when the Knicks take on the Atlanta Hawks, for the team’s first playoff game since 2013.

The Knicks would go from nearly 2,000 fans amid COVID-19 restrictions to a capacity of 15,000, the highest in the NBA.

The demand to get inside the Mecca of Basketball was so high, tickets to the first two playoff games are sold out and some fans dished out up to $6,000 to be a part of the largest indoor crowd for a sporting event in the U.S. since the pandemic.

A different ballgame over at Barclays, where NBA superstar James Harden is using his influence to promote ticket sales to see the Nets emerge postseason.

On the ice, hype surrounds the New York Islanders, who gear up for Game 4 Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with rowdy crowds embracing a half full Nassau Coliseum.

At Yankee Stadium, new sections are being opened up for this weekend’s series against the White Sox to accommodate those fully vaccinated.

All around, it’s a win-win for the fans who are ready to fill the stands. 

To increase vaccinations, the Nets have partnered with the city to open a COVID-19 vaccination site for those 12 years or older, just across the street from Barclays at the Modell’s Sporting Goods building. It begins Saturday.

Young adults and children who aren’t yet eligible of getting the vaccine and plan on attending a game will need to test negative.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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