Sports Fans Welcomed Back As Stadium Doors Open At Full Capacity


As summer kicks off and a huge number of American citizens are becoming vaccinated, many sports events are now opened back up to the public.

Boston arenas, NFL stadiums, and even our very own Nationals Park will be going back to full capacity in the coming weeks. 

At Boston’s TD Garden, ticketed seats will no longer be socially distanced but masks will still be required for all guests regardless of vaccination status, unless you are eating. Fenway Park however, is no longer requiring guests to wear masks as long as they are fully vaccinated. TD Garden says that despite going from 25% capacity to 100%, it will be sufficiently staffed for almost 18,000 Bruins fans this Saturday and another 17,000 Celtics fans this Sunday. Even the Red Sox officials say that staffing numbers will be more than pre-Covid levels to support MLB guidelines for Restricted Areas.

As of May of 2021, the NFL has announced 30 of the 32 teams have been given approval to open to 100% capacity this fall. The two exceptions to this approval are the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. The NFL said “both [teams] have a clear path” to re-opening to full capacity this fall. The NFL kicks off their 2021 regular season on Thursday, September 9 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open their Super Bowl title defense. The Buccaneers will likely open their title defense in front of a full house at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

A bit over a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic was resulting in postponements and cancellations across the sports world. By the time the NFL season started, sports had restarted but they were doing so in mostly empty stadiums. In the fall, we started to see small capacity numbers for a handful of stadiums, but it was a long way from full capacity. The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl 55 played in front of 25,000 fans at a stadium that holds nearly 66,000.

But now, as the COVID-19 vaccine is available to all Americans and a flattening of the curve is resulting in states re-opening. Each state has its own guidelines, but again and again we’re seeing restrictions removed entirely for public gatherings. In states where restrictions remain in place, government officials are announcing plans for those restrictions to end over the summer.

The Washington Nationals have been granted approval by the District of Columbia to increase capacity at Nationals Park for their homestand later this month and to operate at full capacity in mid-June. Early this May, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a number of reopenings for restaurants, bars, and sports and entertainment venues in the city, easing up on restrictions that had been in place since the beginning of the pandemic 16 months ago.

Included in the mayor’s announcement was the approval allowing for more fans at Nationals Park in the coming weeks. Beginning May 11, the team is allowed to host up to 36 percent capacity at the ballpark, which seats roughly around 40,000 guests.

The Nationals haven’t played a single home game in front of anything close to a full house since Game 5 of the 2019 World Series. The team played all 30 home games during the shortened 2020 season with no fans in attendance, then opened this season with a city-mandated cap of 5,000 fans, which is equal to 12.5 percent capacity, before it was increased to 25 percent later in April.