The St. Louis Blues have announced they will begin allowing fans into games for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. The first game with fans will take place February 2nd against the Arizona Coyotes. The Blues will be the second team in its division to allow fans and the fifth overall after Arizona, the Florida Panthers, Dallas Stars, and Nashville Predators. St. Louis Post Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas announced the news late Wednesday morning.
Starting with next homestand, which begins Feb. 2 vs. Arizona, Blues will allow 1,400 fans at Enterprise.
— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) January 27, 2021
Fans to Be Allowed for St. Louis Blues 2020-21 Season
The pandemic still rages across much of North America, but vaccine distribution has begun and teams are eager to start collecting revenue from gate receipts. Some may take issue with allowing fans until a greater percentage of the population can be vaccinated, but St. Louis will only allow 1,400 fans at this time. That is less than 10 percent of the Enterprise Center’s total capacity for hockey games. That leaves plenty of room for fans to stay away from each other. There may also be concessions and other amenities for those fans, but the team will likely take strict measures to control fan movement through the arena.
It helps that four other teams have been allowing fans with no significant outbreaks reported. The Stars and Panthers have missed games through the season’s first weeks, but those aren’t tied to the presence of fans. Having relatively successful test cases will make it easier for more teams to bring fans into games in small numbers. Vaccine distribution under the current U.S. and Canadian administrations will eventually allow for more fan admittance.
What Impact Will This Have
The NHL and its teams have been forced to get very creative about finances this season. They lost large sums of money with no fans during the 201-20 postseason. That lack of revenue forced a flat salary cap and cost-cutting moves across the hockey world. We have seen ads on helmets and naming rights for the divisions themselves sold as a way to compensate. Getting fans back safely is just one more piece of the financial puzzle.