Updated: April 21, 2021 06:34 AM
Created: April 20, 2021 05:17 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Sporting venues like Frontier Field have the lowest capacity limits despite being outside. Currently, they can only fill up 20% of their stadium with fans.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised the limits at different indoor venues Monday, but not outdoor venues.
News10NBC talked to Red Wings General Manager Dan Mason about the governor's decision. When we asked Mason how unfair this is, he said he doesn't understand why the rules are different for Frontier Field compared to indoor venues.
When the Red Wings play their first game on May 4 in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, they will play in a stadium with 50% capacity. If nothing changes, they will do so in front of just 20% capacity when they return for their first home game at Frontier Field.
"We're still hopeful that our capacity is gonna go up from 20% to who knows what it will go up to, but we're still very optimistic, and hopeful that will increase," Mason said.
Starting Monday, April 26, movie theater capacity increases to 33%, while capacity at museums and zoos increases to 50%. Starting May 19, indoor venues, such as the Blue Cross Arena where the Amerks play, can have 25% capacity. Mason is looking for help from the big leagues.
"Teams like the Mets and Yankees and the Major League Baseball office in New York City are all working with the governor's office in explaining some of the things that are challenging for our business right now," Mason said.
Mason admits that an increase of fans presents some challenges, especially with 6 feet of social distance.
"Even at 50%, quite frankly, if we have to socially distant people 6-feet apart, there's not much more room," Mason said. "We can't sell that many more tickets even if we go up to 50% as opposed to 20%. We just don't have the space here at the ballpark to do so."
With still almost one month left until the home opener, Mason is left waiting for the governor's next announcement on large crowd gatherings.
"We're optimistic that, that number is gonna go up, but we just don't we don't know right now, so we're planning to be at 20% on May 18 when we open," Mason said.
Mason said fans will have to prove that they tested negative for COVID-19, or show proof of vaccination when visiting the stadium.
Another big challenge is families with children between the ages of 2 and 15 who are not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Mason says this could have a significant effect on attendance.
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