The SAP Center will reopen for Sharks fans
For the first time in over a year, San Jose Sharks fans can enter the SAP Center on Monday evening. Fans will need proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to participate.
SAN JOSE, California – – For the first time in over a year, Sharks fans were allowed to enter the SAP Center in San Jose for the NHL game on Monday night. The change comes as many counties continue to relax COVID-19 restrictions.
The sharks had allowed employees and their families to play previous games. But Monday marked the first time since the pandemic that a limited number of fans attended the game.
Several test locations have been set up outside the SAP Center, as a COVID test result is just as important as a ticket to get a seat.
“It’s a hassle to get all the tests and all that stuff. But whatever we have to do to get back in there,” said Eric Heckman, a long-time Sharks season ticket holder.
Heckman’s wife Anna is doing a COVID test Monday afternoon so she can take part in the game on Wednesday, including against the Arizona Coyotes.
“It’s really exciting after not having been in over a year,” she said.
The so-called “Shark Tank” has been empty since March 2020. At this point, Santa Clara County officials were enacting COVID-19 protocols banning large gatherings such as fans in arenas and stadiums.
“After 14 months, we welcome the fans back to the greatest sport in the world,” said Jonathan Becher, president of the San Jose Sharks.
He said in addition to the COVID tests or proof of vaccination, it would only be digital tickets. And no food can be eaten at the seats, only at the designated stations in the halls.
“(Monday evening) there will be somewhere between 500 and a thousand people. And then we will open a little more on Wednesday evening. And then we will slowly reach a capacity of 25%,” said Becher.
Of all major sports, experts said the NHL is in the most hurry to return to normal. The league’s total value fell 2% over the past year.
“The sharks are closely tied to the Bay Area, and specifically to the San Jose economy, so there are a lot of different stakeholders who are keeping a very close eye,” said Shaun Fletcher, professor of public and sports communications at San Jose State University.
Team executives said more than 1,500 part-time workers – ticket takers to concession employees – depend on money earned during home games. Officials said the sharks on home ice are not only a benefit to the players but also to those who watch and win whenever “Team Teal” takes the ice.
“It will be nice to get in there. I hope they at least start to win,” said Eric Heckman.
According to team officials, quick COVID-19 tests are available 90 minutes before the game starts, but a fee of $ 50 will be charged.