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Sports teams working to find ways to have fans attend games safely

sports fans
Posted at 12:32 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 15:32:28-04

In some parts of America, sports just mean more.

St. Louis is one of those places.

“I bleed blue. I’m a true Blues fan, and they’re the best," said hockey fan Sarah Middleton.

Our lives can be shaped by what we love.

“They mean everything to me, besides of course my family and all that. They are like number one in my life," Middleton expressed.

During the pandemic shutdown, it’s been hard for fans to be distant from the field, the ice, the experience.

“You can't come in and get the same vibes at home," said Blues' fan Brandon Mixon.

Few know the power of a crowd more than Chris Kerber; he’s been the radio voice of the St. Louis Blues for more than two decades.

“Sports teams represent a city. They represent a fan base, they represent a region, they bring positivity," he said.

The city of St. Louis let the Blues start with around 1,400 fans in the arena in February.

For the NHL playoffs, the team will be allowed to fill half its arena.

Most cities’ health departments have followed the same framework, limiting the number of fans, even for outdoor games.

But in some places, like Georgia, Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves are playing outside to a packed stadium of fans, with no capacity limits.

“Safety is important. The fans want to come in the building. They want to feel safe they tell you," Kerber said.

This season, masks have been required. Seats are zip-tied to keep pods of fans socially distant.

All tickets are digital, and food and drink orders are cashless.

Fans can also use an app and have an order brought to their seats, so they don’t have to stand in line.

Kerber feels Blues fans have followed the rules to this point.

“We would not have been able to expand our capacity and bring more fans in if the fans didn’t comply with the orders and understand,” Kerber said.

Sports still feel different in 2021.

The St. Louis Cardinals have also limited fans this season and put COVID-19 measures in place.

"The number one thing is vaccinations, as those go up just continue to encourage people to get those vaccinations so we can return to normal," said Cardinals' Vice President of Stadium Operations Matt Gifford.

But being close to normal can only increase the desire for a full return.

“I can’t wait until we get back to full capacity and the boards are rocking again," Mixon said.