TAMPA (WFLA) — The parent company of the Tampa Bay Lightning announced Saturday morning that they will open the new season without fans due to the rise in coronavirus cases.
Vinik Sports Group, LLC cited the rise in cases and hospitalizations across Hillsborough County and west Central Florida as the reason for the decision. The organization had previously been planning to admit about 3,800 per game before the new announcement.
“Our health care agency partners and the local governments have helped ensure that AMALIE Arena is as safe and healthy as possible, but because of the increasing numbers and the rising positivity rates we are not comfortable bringing large numbers of fans indoors to watch hockey or basketball right now,” the team said Saturday. “We are hopeful to reopen the arena soon after we see declining rates and better overall numbers.”
The facility will remain closed to fans through at least February 5. The organization will then reassess the numbers with the local health and government officials before making another change.
The decision to go ‘fanless’ will impact the Toronto Raptors as well, who started their NBA season in Tampa. The team has already hosted a few games at AMALIE Arena with fans this season, but won’t any longer until further notice.
Those that have purchased tickets for the upcoming Lightning season will be contacted directly by the ticket sales and service team at AMALIE Arena with options on ticket refunds.
LATEST ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:
- Tampa urgent care clinics see spike in patients during coronavirus resurgence
- Tampa Fringe Festival returns in person, organizers now requiring masks
- Shake Shack founder says his other restaurants will require COVID-19 vaccine for customers, employees
- Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s COVID ICU census has more than doubled since Monday
- Universal Orlando says guests ‘encouraged’ to wear masks indoors