‘We cannot wait’: Charlotte Hornets to allow fans into Spectrum Center at 15 percent capacity

Updated: Mar. 2, 2021 at 5:22 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Hector Cortes has been cheering on the Charlotte Hornets since 2007 and has been a regular-season ticket holder for the last seven years. He’s known by many as the fanatic with the sombrero.

For the past year, he’s been watching faithfully from home and connecting with other fans digitally.

But finally, Cortes and other fans can go back to the Spectrum Center in person.

“We haven’t had this much excitement in a long time and I’m very excited just to go back and feel - even if it’s just a little bit and just cheer on our Hornets,” Cortes said.

The Charlotte Hornets will finally welcome fans back into the Spectrum Center for home games beginning March 13.

This comes after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that indoor venues can expand capacity.

The Hornets announced they will allow 15 percent capacity for home games, which is about 3,000 fans per game.

The first game fans will be allowed on March 13 against the Toronto Raptors.

The Hornets’ reopening plan was approved by state and county health leaders.

Before allowing the general public into the area, the Hornets will give 500 tickets to Novant Health employees for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hornets have a young and exciting team, currently holding the eighth-position in the East standings, led by rookie Lamelo Ball and free agent Gordon Hayward, who haven’t played in front of the Charlotte home fans yet.

It will have been more than a year since the last time Hornets’ fans entered the Spectrum Center, which was March 7, 2020, less than a week before last season was stopped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Single-game tickets for the remainder of the 2020-21 season will go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 5, at 10 a.m.

“We are thrilled to welcome Hornets fans back to Spectrum Center, even though it will be in a limited capacity,” said Hornets President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “The energy, excitement and passion that our fans bring every night to Spectrum Center has been missed by our players, coaches and staff, and we cannot wait to have them back in the Hive. This is a great first step for not only our fans, but our city and our entire community.

“On behalf of our entire organization, I’d like to thank Governor Cooper, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio and our state and county health officials for their leadership, guidance and input throughout this process as we worked to reopen Spectrum Center to our fans.”

The Hornets have worked closely with state, county and city officials, local health agencies, infectious diseases specialists and the NBA in order to develop a detailed reopening plan that prioritizes the health of everyone entering Spectrum Center and allows for the safe return of fans. Some of the new health and safety protocols include:

  • Face Masks Required: All fans over the age of 2 are required to wear a face mask that completely covers their nose and mouth at all times while inside Spectrum Center. The only exception is when fans are actively eating or drinking. Neck gaiters, bandanas or masks with valves or vents are not permitted.
  • Socially Distanced Seating: Tickets will be sold in pods of 1-4 seats throughout Spectrum Center. Please note that there is a limited amount of one- and three-seat pods. Each pod will have a six-foot radius surrounding it to maintain proper social distance. Seats not available for use will be clearly marked. Fans are to remain in their pod only and not relocate to other seats. Additionally, guests must maintain six feet of social distance at all times within Spectrum Center, including standing in lines at entrances or concession stands, using elevators or escalators, and walking on the concourse.
  • Mobile Ticking: In an effort to eliminate shared touch points, all tickets this season will be mobile. Access to tickets for Hornets games will be available by downloading the Hornets App. Fans who purchase tickets through Ticketmaster.com or the Ticketmaster App will also be able to access mobile tickets through the Ticketmaster App. The Spectrum Center Box Office will be closed. Fans will purchase their tickets online or by phone.
  • Contactless Ordering & Payment: Spectrum Center has created a 100% cashless experience at all concession stands and retail locations in an effort to eliminate the numerous shared touch points through cash transactions. The Hornets App has been expanded to allow guests to order and pay for concessions and retail items on mobile devices while utilizing express pick up.
  • · Guest Health Screen: Before entering Spectrum Center, all guests and staff must complete a COVID-19 health screen, which will be available through the Hornets App. Passing the health screen questionnaire is a required for entry.
  • · Concessions: In partnership with Levy, a new, limited menu has been developed, featuring Grab & Go options. Spectrum Center food offerings will be individually wrapped and packaged, as will condiments, utensils, napkins and straws. Fans may only consume food at their seats or at designated locations on the concourses.
  • · Entry & Exit Procedures: To ensure the safety of fans, Spectrum Center will implement a timed entry system and a staggered egress at the end of each game. There will be designated entry times and zones for fans in an effort to remain socially distanced and reduce congestion. Prior to each game, ticket holders will receive an email communication with entry times and zones. At the conclusion of each game, fans will be directed to specific doors and stairwells based on their seat locations.
  • · Touchless Security: Spectrum Center has updated its security protocols at all entrances to include magnetometers and X-ray machines for touch-free bag checks. In an effort to reduce wait times upon entering the arena, it is recommended that guests do not bring bags to the games. The only bags allowed in Spectrum Center are tote bags, diaper bags and purses, smaller than 14″X14″X6″.
  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hornets have been constantly examining, evaluating and improving Spectrum Center’s cleaning, sanitation and air filtration systems in order to provide the safest environment for fans, employees and players.

Spectrum Center was the first arena in North America and is currently one of only three NBA arenas to earn both the GBAC STAR and WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations & Management, a pair of third-party certifications that evaluate cleaning protocols, disinfecting techniques and infectious disease prevention. Along with previous procedures that were previously in place, the Hornets have implemented the following:

  • Air Filtration & Purification: The Hornets have worked with industry experts to increase Spectrum Center’s levels of air filtration and purification. The arena has installed MERV-13 or better filtration and maintains optimal building conditions for virus control, including humidity levels between 40-60%.
  • Honeywell Partnership: Additionally, the Hornets have partnered with global and industry leader Honeywell to improve indoor air quality. Honeywell’s Healthy Building Dashboard integrates with Spectrum Center’s automated system to provide analytics around indoor air quality performance, while monitoring temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, particle matter values and more.
  • Cleaning & Disinfecting Procedures: The Hornets are undertaking enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures – based on CDC recommendations – throughout the facility. Some measures include: increasing concentration and frequency of deep-cleaning efforts in high-touch/high-traffic areas, using EPA-approved disinfectant, utilizing electrostatic sprayers and fogging technology within public areas on a daily basis and third-party evaluation of cleaning and disinfecting procedures by infection control specialists.
  • Sanitizing Stations: Spectrum Center has increased the number of touchless hand sanitizing stations throughout the arena, including all concession locations, elevators and entrances.
  • Plexiglass Dividers: For the safety of everyone involved, clear plastic dividers have been installed at locations where team members and guests interact, including security checkpoints at all entrances and checkout locations at concession stands and in the Hornets Fan Shop.

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