Cue the “Beat LA” chants.
The Portland Trail Blazers announced Wednesday that the team will allow fans into the Moda Center for the first time in more than a year starting Friday. The team is scheduled to play the Los Angeles Lakers.
Attendance will be limited to 10% of the arena’s full capacity, which comes to just under 2,000 people.
The announcement comes the day after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown downgraded Multnomah County, where the Moda Center is located, and 14 others from “extreme risk” to “high risk” for COVID-19 transmission. Statewide hospitalizations related to the ongoing pandemic are down, which Brown said eliminates the need for the state’s most-stringent restrictions on businesses and public activity.
Trail Blazers president and CEO Chris McGowan in a press release thanked Brown and the Oregon Health Authority for allowing the team to move forward on its plans to host fans.
“We are thrilled to welcome limited fans to Moda Center and bring back the best home court advantage in the league,” McGowan said. “We are putting health and safety at the forefront of every game and have many new arena improvements and changes to the guest experience that will create a seamless and contactless experience.”
Fans will be required to wear masks inside the arena unless actively eating or drinking, and groups of fans will be seated at least 6 feet apart. Fans must also complete a health screening on the Trail Blazers mobile app before attending a game.
Portland’s Trail Blazers will be the last team in the NBA to allow fans inside their home arena since the coronavirus pandemic forced the league to shut down last March.
That fact drew criticism (and jokes and memes) from the team’s stars.
“So we gone be the only damn team in the whole league with no fans,” Damian Lillard posted to his Twitter account.
“Wonder why we got a better record on the road,” CJ McCollum replied. (Portland has 20 road wins and 16 home wins this season.)
Wonder why we got a better record on the road 🤣 https://t.co/2axVRj9xIv— CJ McCollum (@CJMcCollum) May 4, 2021
The Portland Timbers and Thorns soccer clubs have welcomed just under 4,000 fans to Providence Park for home matches this season. “Extreme risk” restrictions in Multnomah County threatened to keep fans out of the park for matches this weekend prior to the governor’s reversal.
Oregon has reported nearly 188,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 2,521 people in the state have died with COVID-19, as of Wednesday morning.