Majority of Fans Want to Return to Stadiums, at Reduced Capacity

Morning Consult poll found that many fans are itching to return to in-person attendance at games, but they are also still worried about their safety from the coronavirus.

The two major indoor pro sports, the NBA and the NHL, are gearing up to sell a healthier stadium environment to fans looking to return to games in a post pandemic world.

According to Morning Consult, the two leagues are retooling stadiums to add more robust air cleansing systems, hand sanitizing facilities, demands for mask-wearing, and other health measures. And the upgrades coincide with polls that find fans are more health and safety-conscious going forward.

For instance, the polling group noted that the New York Islanders are putting in a state-of-the-art air filtration system. “The filtering system — and having these on each corner — means we’ll have 80 percent more fresh air than the old arena,” said Tim Leiweke, chief executive of arena developer Oak View Group.

Some of the poll results found that 48 percent of respondents are looking forward to returning to the stadiums. But 72 percent of regular attendees were also more comfortable if fans had to wear masks during the game.

Regular attendees are also ready to return to games. Thirty-six percent said they are prepared to go back to stadiums and arenas, while only 23 percent said they would attend games less frequently going forward.

Among regular attendees, the results still showed that fans are not yet comfortable with fan attendance at 100 percent of any particular stadium’s capacity. Only 35 percent of regular attendees feel it is OK if stadiums go for 100 percent capacity for outdoor stadiums. On the other hand, 67 percent said they are more comfortable with stadiums filling only to 25 percent capacity, while 55 percent said that 50 percent capacity is OK with them.

The numbers were similar for indoor events, with 59 percent of respondents saying that 25 percent capacity is acceptable, while only 34 percent said 100 percent capacity is a good idea.

The great preponderance of fans also wants attendees to be required to wear masks at games. Thirty-eight percent said they would be more comfortable with fans being required to wear masks, and 34 percent said they’d be “somewhat more comfortable.” Meanwhile only, 34 percent said they didn’t care about masks, and a tiny 7 percent said they are “less comfortable” with masks, and a small 6 percent slice was adamantly against them.

The numbers were similar for fan interest in hand sanitizing stations (72 percent in favor/6 percent opposed), temperature screenings for fans to allow them to enter a stadium (70 percent pro/10 percent con), stadiums using UV light to kill viruses (70 percent pro/9 percent con), and installing robust air filtration systems (69 percent in favor/11 percent against).

As far as Morning Consult is concerned, fans are ready to return to games, but they aren’t looking for a complete return to normal.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.

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