Vinik Sports Group, owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena, announced on Saturday that the organization will not admit fans because “the number of COVID-19 in west-central Florida has sharply increased these last days “.
No fan will be allowed in the building until at least February 5th.
Florida has been a hotspot for COVID-19 and reported nearly 20,000 new cases on Friday as the global pandemic continues to worsen.
The state has recorded more than 1.4 million cases since the start of the pandemic.
“Our partner healthcare agencies and local governments have helped make Amalie Arena as safe and healthy as possible. But due to the growing number and increasing positivity rates, we are not comfortable bringing a large number of fans inside to watch hockey or basketball right now, ”said Steve Griggs, CEO. from Vinik Sports Group and Lightning. “We hope to reopen the arena soon after we see lower rates and better overall numbers. ”
The Raptors were part of half a dozen NBA teams to allow a limited number of fans at home games, with 3,800 tickets available for each game at Amalie Arena.
Due to Canada’s border restrictions and increasing COVID-19 cases, the Raptors have been forced to play their home games outside of Tampa for at least the first half of the season.
The Raptors had offered tickets to the first 11 games of the team’s home schedule, with three games going. Tickets sold for the other eight games will be refunded.
Amalie Arena didn’t feel like a playground for the Raptors, with many fans in attendance to support the visiting teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on January 9, 2021.