COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Hockey fans are celebrating the Fifth Line’s return to Nationwide Arena. Starting March 2nd, the Columbus Blue Jackets will be able to welcome back 10 percent capacity to home games.
“It’s night and day watching on TV versus actually being in Nationwide and being able to hear all 19,000 fans, hearing the 5th Line going crazy for the team,” said Spencer Carey.
Bill Mattes added, “Hockey is a game that you have to experience live. You cannot understand the speed and the stamina with which these guys skate unless you see it live.”
Mattes attended the first Blue Jackets home game during the 2000 inaugural season and has been a season ticket holder for more than a decade. While his wife, a labor and delivery nurse, is hesitant to attend in-person games, he plans to return as soon as possible.
“I may wear gloves the first time, but I’m positive I’ll be safe in there,” he said.
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission expects reintroducing fans may help surrounding businesses begin to recoup business lost during the pandemic.
“Any time we can infuse a couple thousand people into one area over an extended period, that’s always going to show some great results,” said executive director Linda Logan.
Logan praised the long hours teams from Nationwide Arena and health departments spent developing a reopening plan. She explained the plan is now a reference point for bringing other in-person entertainment back to the region.
“We are working with our groups now that are coming in the next few months. We’re also working with those who hope to come in the next few years. I think what all of our customers want to see is some consistency,” Logan said. “We’re here to guide them in the right direction with all the health rules that are out there – so that we can provide the most updated information.”
State and local health officials signed off on a proposal to reintroduce a 10 percent, 1,953 person crowd to the arena. Fans are expected to abide by the following protocols:
- Prior to entering Nationwide Arena, all fans must complete an online check-in questionnaire to be cleared for entry.
- Face masks will be required for all guests (ages 2 and over) and must be worn at all times unless actively eating or drinking in your seats. Gaiters, bandanas or masks with vents will NOT be permitted. Masks must fully cover the nose and mouth and fit securely under the chin.
- All seats will be grouped in “seating pods” separated by a minimum distance of 6-feet.
- All tickets will be distributed via digital/mobile means as all paper tickets and season ticket holder pass cards have been eliminated.
- All ticketing, concessions and merchandise will be cashless. Purchases can be made with a debit card or credit card. Reverse ATM’s (no fee cash to credit exchange) have been installed within the arena.
- Bags are not permitted with exceptions made for medical bags, diaper bags or clutches no larger than 8″x 5″x 1.”
- Per NHL guidelines, the first four rows around the rink, as well as a 12-foot safe zone from player benches, Zamboni tunnels and penalty boxes have been removed from available seating for safety purposes.
- There will be no designated smoking areas at Nationwide Arena this season.
- Arena District Parking will limit garages for event parking and all garages will be cashless and require a pre-purchased parking pass.
Pre-sale tickets for the March 9th game will go on sale on Tuesday, February 23rd. See more details about ticket sales here.
You can find complete information about attending games by clicking here.