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Report: NBA Expects Full Arenas for 2021-22, Hopeful for Additional Fans This Season

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2021

The NBA reportedly expects arenas to be filled to capacity during the 2021-22 season, and it is hopeful for an increase in fans for the remainder of this season.

According to ESPN's Baxter Holmes, the NBA feels good about the possibility of teams having the maximum number of fans in attendance next season thanks to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Holmes also noted that more than two-thirds of the NBA's teams are allowing a limited number of fans to attend their games this season, and some of them have recently increased the number of fans allowed to be present.

The Phoenix Suns announced an increased capacity of 3,000 on February 10, and the Milwaukee Bucks increased their capacity to 3,280—or 18 percent of Fiserv Forum—on March 20.

Holmes also reported the NBA's partnership with biometric screening company Clear, which is expected to be officially announced this week.

While not all NBA teams will be required to utilize Clear, Holmes noted that the system could aid significantly in vetting fans and getting arenas as close to maximum capacity as possible in the near future.

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Fans will reportedly be able to download the Clear app on their phones, upload an identifying document, take a selfie and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Additionally, fans will be able to answer health survey questions on the app, and they will then be given either a "red or green notification," determining whether they will be allowed to attend the game.

An increase in capacity will occur on a case-by-case basis, however, as it will be dependent on state and local regulations for each team.

As more people get vaccinated, the NBA is also reportedly set to allow teams to create vaccinated fan sections, which would only require social distancing based on the state and local regulations.

With most of the NBA's teams allowing at least some fans this season, the league has already taken a significant step forward compared to last season.

The 2019-20 restart took place inside the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida, with no fans in attendance for any games aside from friends and family members of the players during the playoffs.

This season, all teams have been able to play in their home venues aside from the Toronto Raptors, who have been relegated to Tampa, Florida, due to Canada's COVID-19 travel restrictions.

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