Latest NBA Arena Capacity Guidelines

Following the CDC’s updated guidance that fully vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing in most settings, many NBA teams increased their arenas’ capacities ahead of the start of the playoffs.

Here’s a list of how teams are progressing toward 100% capacity as the playoffs arrive.

Full Capacity Crowds

  • The Atlanta Hawks became the first NBA team to completely reopen their arena, welcoming all fans back to State Farm Arena for the start of the playoffs. They had previously raised capacity to 45%.
    • With buffer zones between players and fans still taking up some seats, “full capacity” looks to be around 92%.
  • The Denver Nuggets raised Ball Arena’s capacity to 100% for the second round of the playoffs. Previously, the Nuggets raised their capacity to 42.3%, double the earlier limit, ahead of the playoffs.
    • Similar to the Hawks, “full capacity” will be 91.5%, or 18,300 of 20,000 seats, when accounting for player buffer zones.

Increasing to 100%

Three arenas on the eastern seaboard announced plans to scale up to 100% capacity.

As arena capacity increases across the country, TD Garden is poised to be one of the first to reach 100%
Source: Benoît Prieur (CC-BY-SA), Wikimedia Commons
  • The Boston Celtics upped TD Garden’s capacity to 25% until May 29, when fans can return at full capacity.
  • On May 13, the Washington Wizards began allowing fans to fill Capital One Arena to 25% capacity. They then raised that limit to 50% and planned to open to 100% on June 11 had they not been eliminated from the playoffs.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers will also return to full capacity on June 11, but in the meantime, the Wells Fargo Center is open at half-capacity.

Almost There

These venues haven’t announced a date for an increase to full capacity, but they’ll still see many more fans in attendance as the playoffs start.

At American Airlines Arena capacity will be close to 100% for the playoffs.
Source: Leonard D. Francisci, Wikimedia Commons
  • The Miami Heat opened American Airlines Arena to about 86% capacity for the playoffs after previously raising capacity to 44%.
  • The Brooklyn Nets raised capacity in the Barclays Center to about 80%. 93% of fans at their first playoff game were fully vaccinated.
  • The Dallas Mavericks opened the American Airlines Center to 45% earlier in May, with owner Mark Cuban wishing for an even higher capacity. He got his wish, and the Mavs have raised their attendance cap to 80%.
  • The New York Knicks sold out historic Madison Square Garden at a capacity of about 76% for their opening playoff game, with most fans in attendance being fully vaccinated.
  • Fans are now allowed to fill the Utah Jazz‘s Vivint Arena to about 70% capacity.
  • The Phoenix Suns will operate Phoenix Suns Arena at around 60% capacity as the team looks to shine in its first playoff appearance in ten years.

Middle Ground

These teams are welcoming fans back at near half capacity.

In Milwaukee, arena capacity will be 50% as the Bucks mount a playoff run.
Source: SidewalkMD, Wikimedia Commons
  • The Memphis Grizzlies doubled FedExForum’s capacity to 40% before increasing it again to 55% for the start of the playoffs.
  • The Milwaukee Bucks will limit attendance in Fiserv Forum to half capacity.

Still More Limited

These two teams’ facility still have attendance of less than 50%.

Source: JoeJohnson2, Wikimedia Commons
  • The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers are filling the Staples Center to about 41-44% capacity.
  • The Portland Trail Blazers opened fully vaccinated sections, allowing them to fill the Moda Center with 8,000 fans, about 41% of capacity.

As sports venues return to full capacity, industry leaders trust IIFX and their Return to Work, Play, and Spectate guide for reopening. Get the guide here.

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