DENVER (CBS4) – Plans are shaping up for the return of fans at Ball Arena. 4,050 fans will be welcomed again as games with fans start again on March 30 and 31 with front-line workers, health care workers and first responders attending Nuggets and Avalanche games, followed by ticket paying fans on April 2.
“I think Jamal (Murray) needs us,” said longtime fan Vicki Ray. She’s missed only three Nuggets games in 30 years when fans have been allowed. Her home is laid out with Nuggets souvenirs including sneakers and other mementos in her front room.READ MORE: Jacob Clark Of Trinidad Arrested For Participation In U.S. Capitol Riot
“I’m ready. I was ready a month ago.”
Altitude Sports was able to get the Colorado Department of Public Health an Environment to sign off on 25% capacity at the arena by coming up with a plan for approval.
“We’ll try to spread it out to try to give everybody a chance to get in here and there. Hopefully as we get into the spring into the summer hopefully we’ll be able to add to capacity as well,” said Matt Bell, vice president of venue and booking for Kroenke Sports and Entertainment.
People like Vicki will get a chance to get tickets before others, but the plans are still being working out.
“If somebody’s been a member since the beginning of the Avalanche or goes 20 years back with the Nuggets I think there will be a process to sort that out,” said Bell.
The 25% capacity meant the Ball Arena could welcome hundreds more fans, but NBA and NHL rules mean the number of people allowed will have to come down.
“The leagues are not currently allowing any seating behind the team benches and behind the league officials bench and even in some of the end zones where the portals are, where the players come in and out,” said Bell.
That will include Vicki.
“Right in 130 where they go into the locker room, said Ray. “That’ll be terrible, I’ve never sat anywhere else in there.”
Over the years, she’s become a much beloved fan in that spot and she stays in touch with former players. Marcus Camby is a favorite. He’s reached out repeatedly with kind gestures, long after his days as a player with the Nuggets.
Ray knows the team needs fans.
“You can see it in the 4th quarter most games. They get excited.”READ MORE: Colorado's Comeback: Fans Return For Concerts At Red Rocks
Fans who will be allowed in will have to wear masks for the rest of the season, says Bell.
Concession stands will have limited offerings, with the same at each to keep people from wandering and passing each other along the concourses. Tickets will be electronic and they hope to have nearly all payment electronically. =
“And as part of the digital ticket that you’ll have on your phone you’ll be required to complete a health screening,” said Bell.
Admission will be moved outside from inside. 25% capacity meant about 500 more seats than the Bell Arena will be able to offer. Fans will be grouped together per ticket sales. They are still working out plans, but groups will sit together, social distanced by at least six feet from other.
“Once you sets of twos and sets of fours and spread that all around the arena and have six foot distancing between each, that’s how we got to the 4,574 number.”
They are hoping that as the NHL and NBA open their own rules about seating close to players or where they pass the admission numbers will rise.
“There’s little doubt there will be season ticket holders hoping to get first dibbs. It’ll start with season ticket holders and priority groups and then there will be a limited amount that will be available to the general public as well.”
Those will be on different days, Bell further explained.
The arena will still have to hire enough people. But there’s excitement, even among workers.
There’s a different energy in the building today and you can just see that with the staff.
Vicki Ray has been going out little. Mostly just to work and the grocery store. She’s still not vaccinated, but thinking about the Nuggets games ahead.
“I’m going to be there,” said Ray.
It’s hard to doubt her.MORE NEWS: 'Forever Chemicals' Levels In Frisco Drinking Water Would Be Illegal In Three Other States, Residents 'Shocked'
There will be more information ahead on websites for the Avalanche, Nuggets and Ball Arena said Bell.