SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz will be welcoming some fans back next month.
When the NBA season begins in December, home games at Vivint Arena will be played with a limited number of fans in attendance — a very limited number. The arena will reopen with a seating capacity of 1,500 in the lower bowl only and limited seating on the suite level, the team announced Tuesday. Season-ticket holders will be given priority access to the limited number of seats.
"The Jazz believe this is a responsible way to start the season from a public health and safety standpoint," said Jazz President Jim Olson.
Working with the Utah Department of Health, the arena will have several safety measures and protocols in place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those include mandatory face coverings, mobile entry and screening procedures at all entrances, plexiglass barriers at point-of-sale locations, and social distancing signage.
The reduced seats will allow groups to have a six-foot physical distance between each other. Common spaces, like elevators, restrooms and retails stops, will have reduced capacity. No bags or purses will be allowed — with the exception of diaper and medical bags. There will be hand sanitizer stations located throughout the arena. Employees will undergo touchless temperature screening before entering the arena — the Jazz did not state that temperature screening would be required for fans.
The team said the arena's HVAC system has also been upgraded to better filter air.
Will all that be enough to keep fans and employees safe? That remains to be seen. But the Jazz have received the approval from the Utah Department of Health to go ahead with the plan.
"The Utah Jazz have always been an important part of our community, and the team is making every effort to be an example for how we can start to safely resume these types of activities," said Rich Saunders, interim executive director of the Utah Department of Health. "The Jazz are committed to working with public health professionals and to doing everything they can to ensure the health and safety of their fans, players, staff, and arena employees by implementing important safeguards and limiting the number of people who can attend games in-person. We certainly look forward to welcoming the Jazz back."
The limited number of fans will only be allowed once the regular season begins. Any preseason games held at Vivint Arena next month will be played without fans. The NBA season is set to begin on Dec. 22. An official schedule will be announced at a later date.
The Jazz are hoping to be able to increase the seating capacity as the season goes on, depending on state guidelines and the local spread of the disease.
"We want to reassure our guests that we are taking the utmost precautions to have a safe and enjoyable experience as they return," Olson said. "We are optimistic for the future and continue to closely monitor the public health situation with State of Utah, Salt Lake County, and Salt Lake City officials as well as the NBA."