“Light at the End of the COVID Tunnel”: Hundreds of San Jose Sharks fans were welcomed to the SAP Center

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – No artificial fan noise was required for the San Jose Sharks game on Monday night. For the first time in 14 months, fans were welcomed back to the SAP Center.

ABC7 News wowed season ticket holders when the doors opened to guests ahead of Monday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

With protocols fit for the pandemic, fans said the return to “The Tank” proved that we are finally taking a step forward.

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“This is finally like the light at the end of the COVID tunnel,” said Ann-Marie Nelson.

Fan, Angie Varni stated, “It’s almost like we’re taking our kids to kindergarten for the first time. Like we don’t know what to expect.”

The team takes all precautions. Ahead of the reopening on Monday, Sharks President Jonathan Becher reported to reporters the number of changes expected.

A quick overview implies that fans need to be masked. Visitors must provide proof of vaccinations or a negative COVID-19 test. You can even test it on site for a fee. You can find specific changes here.

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When fans finished on Monday, light pink bracelets gave guests the green light to attend.

Darrel Varni said: “I’m most looking forward to it when you say ‘SHARKS GOAL’ and finally hear it over the loudspeaker.”

“Feel the cold of the ice and see the players actually come out,” added Garrett Anaya. “We miss it. We miss it a lot. So it will be great to see them live.”

Becher also stated that the team would open up to the busiest season ticket holders first. Then they plan to follow what he called the “seniority process” for future games.

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“I’ve been a season ticket holder every now and then since the ’96 -’97 seasons,” Tim Mason told ABC7 News. “So … I’ve been around for a while.”

He added: “Up until then, I hadn’t missed a game in nine seasons.”

Mason’s streak was canceled due to COVID-19. However, he and other fans say they will take what they can get.

“It probably won’t be the same because hardly anyone is there,” said Eric Nelson. “But we’re still there!”

Darrel Varni told ABC7 News, “We’re season ticket holders. We went to the last game, then we left and we never came back. So it’s like … finally! We’re so ready to be here.”

“This is a big deal. I mean, grocery and bank,” added his wife, Angie, of the only places they went to during the pandemic. “Well, now we’re coming in hot!”

The team told ABC7 News that there were between 500 and 600 people in attendance on Monday. They said if current protocols prove successful they will have the space to get more fans on board for future games.

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