On Thursday afternoon, Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker formally announced news that New England sports fans have been waiting almost a year for. Starting on March 22, stadiums within the state will be allowed to reopen and host fans at up to 12 percent capacity, as part of Phase 4 of the state’s COVID recovery plan.
In response, teams and stadiums across the state celebrated on social media, while also releasing their own guidelines and updated gameday procedures.
The Bruins are in line to be the first local team to host fans in over a year, with a scheduled home game against the New York Islanders on March 23. TD Garden’s typical hockey capacity is 17,565, which means there could be about 2,100 in attendance.
For basketball, TD Garden’s capacity is slightly larger. When the Celtics return home from a road trip on March 29, they could have as many as 2,200 fans present.
Our sixth man is coming back on 3/29 🙌☘— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 25, 2021
Both the Bruins and Celtics shared a release from TD Garden, outlining new procedures fans may expect once the gates open. Among the biggest changes will be designated entrances and exits, in order to cut down on excessive crowds. Fans will be emailed their specific entry gate in advance of games. There will also be ‘touch free amenities’ which will allow fans to purchase concessions directly from their phones.
The Red Sox celebrated the announcement and confirmed the return of fans with a short video on Twitter. In their release, the team stated that season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to attend games, with “additional details about the plan, including ticket sales information, will be communicated in the coming weeks.” At 12 percent capacity, Fenway Park is expected to hold just over 4,521 fans.
See you at Fenway!— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 25, 2021
The announcement also means the Red Sox Triple-AAA affiliate, the Worcester Red Sox (or WooSox) will be able to make their debut in their new city in front of a crowd on April 13. At 12 percent capacity, the brand new Polar Park should hold 1,140 fans.
Down in Foxborough, the Revolution announced they plan to welcome fans to Gillette Stadium when their season begins on April 17. Meanwhile, the Patriots shared Gillette Stadium’s release, following a report earlier this week that they hope to have fans in attendance for the duration of the season. No specifics were given about the Gillette Stadium procedures for either team. If the 12-percent limit is still in place once Patriots season begins, that would mean 7,905 fans in attendance for each game.
Both Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium have both been used as vaccination sites over the past month, and are expected to continue to serve in that capacity as fans return. Earlier in the day on Thursday, the Gillette site administered its 100,000th vaccination.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.