By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – The excitement for the opening round of the 2021 NHL Playoffs continued to grow exponentially in the Triangle following Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement on Friday that large indoor venues like PNC Arena were approved to increase seating capacity effective immediately.
The updated mandate indicated that social distance between seating pods would no longer be required, allowing the opportunity for double the current Covid-impacted capacity (approx. 5,000) and more of Carolina Hurricanes fans to fill the building to cheer the team on as it begins its Stanley Cup run.
Don’t forget your mask
Of particular note, Cooper’s announcement also included not requiring masks to be worn by individuals fully vaccinated for Covid-19, unless required by a business and/or venue.
“As far as masks, the state may be loosening the mask mandate, I think they’re still highly recommending it, but the NHL has a protocol in place that anybody who enters the building must wear a mask,” Hurricanes President and GM Don Waddell said during a Zoom call with media.
“It’s going to be something that’s a challenge for our staff; as everybody is reading CDC and State guidelines (and) because we are a member of the National Hockey League that we have to follow (them) – and we will follow.”
Thus, per current NHL guidelines, face masks will still be required in the building for all fans attending the upcoming best-of-seven series between the Hurricanes and the Nashville Predators that starts on Monday.
Going to the dance with who brung us
“The number is probably some place between 10,000 and 12,000,” Waddell noted about predicted increased capacity limits.
“I know that’s a big range, but also when you talk about capacity, you have to include everybody that’s in the building. Not only customers, but people that are working in the building, the players. It’s everybody that’s possibly in the building.”
Regarding increased ticket availability, Waddell pointed out that Season Ticket Members (STMs) who had not yet received tickets will have first priority at the additional availability.
“Our season ticket members will still have first choice. I know we haven’t been able to take care of all our season ticket members. Trust me, my phone and email are full of people that were disappointed they couldn’t get tickets. They will be the first choice. We want to make sure we take care of them.”
In the event that there are tickets still available, general public tickets will go on sale on Sunday (May 16th) at 12 p.m. (Noon).
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport