Latest NHL Arena Capacity Rules

The CDC relaxed its mask-wearing and social distancing guidance for fully vaccinated individuals just in time for the start of the Stanley Cup playoffs. After this news, many clubs updated their rules on arena capacity.

Some arenas are scaling up to full capacity, while some are at zero capacity, as the NHL navigates a tournament taking place in two countries.

PPG Paints Arena was one of the first to return to 100% capacity under the latest NHL arena capacity guidelines.
Source: Jleedev, Wikimedia Commons

Gradually Reaching 100% Attendance

  • The Boston Bruins increased TD Garden’s capacity to 25% until May 29 and then fully reopened after that.
  • Pittsburgh allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to raise capacity to 50% after the CDC’s new guidance. The club was then able to return PPG Paints Arena to 100% capacity by game five of their opening-round series against the Islanders.
  • Capacity increased to 50% at Vegas Golden Knights games in T-Mobile Arena at the start of the playoffs before the club raised the cap again, this time to 63%. The team made one more move – to full capacity – on June 4.
  • The Washington Capitals also raised their attendance cap to 25%, with the ability to fill Capital One Arena to full capacity starting June 11. However, the Capitals did not last long enough in the playoffs to play in front of a full home crowd.
NHL arena capacity was lower in most places at the start of the playoffs, but the Hurricanes opened with two-thirds attendance.
Source: Alexisrael, Wikimedia Commons

Over Half-Full

  • After previously raising the BB&T Center’s attendance cap to 47%, the Florida Panthers increased attendance to 75%, the highest in the league at the time of their announcement.
  • The Nashville Predators began the Stanley Cup playoffs with the league’s highest attendance cap, as Bridgestone Arena opened to 70% of capacity.
  • The Predators’ first round opponent, the Carolina Hurricanes, became just the second team to open the postseason with an arena more that half-full at the time of their announcement. They are filling PNC Arena to around two-thirds capacity, making for a loud opening-round series.
Updated NHL arena capacity rules allowed the Lightning, a formidable postseason team, to regain some home ice advantage.
Source: Michael Curi, Wikimedia Commons

Around 50% Attendance

  • The New York Islanders hosted Stanley Cup games at Nassau Coliseum at just over half-capacity. Allowing more fans made for a fond farewell to the old venue before they christen their new facility, UBS Arena, next year.
  • The St. Louis Blues received clearance to raise capacity in the Enterprise Center to 50%.
  • The reigning Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning began their title defense in front of a 47%-full Amalie Arena.
  • Ball Arena can now host Colorado Avalanche playoff games at 42.3% capacity, double the previous limit.
NHL arena capacity rules dictate that Montreal will be the only Canadian team to welcome fans in the 2021 playoffs.
Source: Ken Lund, Wikimedia Commons

25% or Less

  • Capacity increased to 25% at the XCel Center for Minnesota Wild playoff games.
  • The Montreal Canadiens announced they can fill the Bell Centre to 12% capacity by their sixth playoff game.
  • However, Montreal was the only Canadian team cleared to have fans. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers may not host any fans.

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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