The Florida Panthers officially announced their plan to allow fans to attend home games during the socially-distanced 2021 NHL season on Wednesday.
According to the team, the BB&T Center — which seats close to 20,000 for hockey — will be limited to 25 percent of capacity at least to start the season which means somewhere in the neighborhood of 5,000 fans.
That could be reduced or, hopefully, increased as the season goes along depending on how things go.
Season ticket holders will have “priority access” to seats available within the arena and will also be able to buy single game tickets starting on Thursday.
The Panthers will place a limited number of single game tickets on sale to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. at floridapanthers.com/tickets.
The Panthers, who open their season Jan. 14 against the visiting Dallas Stars, say they will remain “in compliance with the NHL, and local and national governmental and health authorities so as to ensure the safety of fans, players, game-related personnel, and the local community.”
Not only has the BB&T Center been certified for its stringent health and safety protocols and improvements, but the team says it will have enhanced safety measures once the doors to the building open for the first time since Roberto Luongo’s No. 1 was retired in a game against the Montreal Canadiens on March 8.
For instance, masks will have to be worn at all times. The team says, in accordance to NHL directives, face shields, gaiters and bandanas do not qualify as face coverings.
Other safety measures implemented include — per the team:
— Health screening: “Fans will answer health and safety questions prior to entry to the building.”
— Socially distant pod seating: “A carefully-designed limited-capacity arena seating chart will ensure all fans are seated at least six feet apart.”
— Contactless mobile ticketing: “Using the Florida Panthers section of the National Hockey League mobile application, fans will be able to load, scan, and present mobile tickets to limit contact with box office staff.
— Cashless and mobile ordering: “Fans will be able to purchase food and beverage items using their mobile devices, as well as place food orders for contactless pick-up at select concession stand locations within BB&T Center.”
— Socially distant entry & exit process: “In addition to social distancing, signage, markers and arena staff will ensure that guests have a safe, socially-distanced journey from arrival, to seat, to departure, always staying six feet apart.”
— Plexiglass screens: “New plexiglass screens have been installed throughout the arena and concession areas for added safety.”
— Updated restrooms: “Touchless sinks, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers have been installed to reduce surface contact.”
“I’m incredibly proud of our exceptional staff’s tireless work and dedication to ensuring the safest possible environment for Panthers fans and the South Florida community, who are an integral part of our team,” team president Matt Caldwell said in a team release.
“Through our rigorous collective efforts, we have achieved the highest of health and safety standards for BB&T Center, and couldn’t be more excited or prepared to safely welcome back our fans at a limited, socially-distant capacity, and begin this next chapter of Panthers hockey with health and safety as our guiding priority.”