California plans to allow fans back indoors starting April 15

By Field Level Media
Feb 14, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; A general view of an empty Staples Center with no fans during the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

California state health officials announced new guidelines on Friday that will allow sports fans to return to arenas, ballparks and stadiums beginning April 15 with strict COVID-19 protocols and capacity restrictions in place, and that caused the state’s sports teams to start making plans to welcome spectators.

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to have fans in attendance when they host the Boston Celtics on April 15, while the Clippers are targeting an April 18 game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Sacramento Kings could have fans in attendance as soon as April 20 for their game against Minnesota, while the Golden State Warriors also said they are excited about the possibility of playing in front of fans. The guidelines also pave the way for the National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings to play in front of a live audience in the coming weeks.

The Lakers, Clippers and Kings were pleased after state officials said California will move to tier orange on Monday, which loosens restrictions on public gatherings, including in bars and restaurants.

In the Orange Tier, capacity in venues that exceed 1,501 is limited to 10 percent or 2,000 people, and capacity increases to 35 percent if all guests are tested or show proof of full vaccination.

“We are excited about today’s announcement regarding indoor professional sports venues and look forward to safely welcoming fans back to the arena in the near future,” the Kings said in a statement. “On behalf of the entire organization, we thank Governor (Gavin) Newsom, state and county public health officials and the NBA who have worked tirelessly to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, providing prevention guidelines and protocols and for collaborating to create a robust health and safety plan that enables guests to return to Golden 1 Center.”

While it is unknown how many fans each team will allow for home games, the franchises are working with officials from state agencies and venues to formulate plans.

“We are incredibly excited that the State of California announced guidelines today that will allow Lakers fans to return to STAPLES Center,” the Lakers said in a statement “Now that we have the guidance, we will work with LA County Public Health and STAPLES Center to finalize our plans to have fans safely attend our games starting with the Lakers vs. Celtics game on April 15. We look forward to welcoming Lakers fans back to STAPLES Center to continue the journey with us to defend our NBA title.”

–Field Level Media