COVID-19 Surge: Saints, Pelicans & City Reduce Attendance to Games

The New Orleans Saints, Pelicans, and City of New Orleans decide to reduce the attendance to games because of the recent surge in Louisiana's COVID-19 cases.
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Only 3,000 attendees will be allowed inside the Mercedes Benz Superdome for New Orleans Saints home games.  800 people are permitted to attend the New Orleans Pelicans team’s home opener later this month.  The recent dramatic surge of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana and the local area have forced the Saints and Pelicans organizations, along with the City of New Orleans to agree on rolling back and reducing attendance for home games.  The reduction in numbers go into effect for the December 20th contest when the reigning Super Bowl Champions, Kansas City Chiefs visit New Orleans.

COVID-19  Surge Decrease Saints Fans

The City of New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, her health and safety team, health experts from Ochsner Health, and the Saints organization all agreed changes to crowd size would be in the best interest of the fans, team, and city.  The increase of the crowd size would only be possible if trends improved in New Orleans for the remainder of the regular season.  Unfortunately, the numbers of COVID-19 cases have climbed.

Based on current data, those predetermined thresholds that have triggered the team and city to roll back the capacity — (a) positivity rate above 5% and (b) cases over 25 per 100,000 (about 100 per day) — have both now been surpassed in Orleans Parish.

Saints season ticket holders will have access to 3,000 tickets for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome's Christmas matchup capacity against the Minnesota Vikings has yet to be determined.  The limit is most likely to remain at 3,000 tickets.

© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Besides game capacity, the city will monitor crowd gatherings throughout New Orleans' Central Business District and the French Quarter on game days to ensure all city regulations are being observed.  The New Orleans Saints and Mayor Cantrell’s office are encouraging fans to wear their masks in public, practice social distancing and good hygiene.  The Saints and Pelicans organization supports the data and Mayor's office in creating a healthy environment for fans. 

Dr. Jennifer Avegno said the city has recommended that about 800 fans be permitted inside Smoothie King Center when the Pelicans face the Spurs on Dec. 27. That number represents 4% of the maximum capacity of Smoothie King Center.

In a statement, Pelicans' spokesperson Greg Bensel confirmed the team plans to follow those recommendations.

“With the start of the Pelicans season quickly approaching, our staff, along with city and state officials, health and safety experts, and guidance from Ochsner Heath have designed a state-of-the-art health and safety plan for the Smoothie King Center,” the team statement said. “Much like we did in making the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the safest venue in the country to watch a football game, we are doing the same with the Smoothie King Center. When determining capacity, we work closely with city officials on real-time data relative to positivity rates, and the number of cases being reported. Currently, we are experiencing a rise in both metrics.”

The maximum capacity at Smoothie King Center (17,791) is roughly one-fourth of the maximum capacity at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (74,295).  The New Orleans Saints game action will be televised on FOX (WVUE FOX 8 locally), Sunday, December 13th at 3:25 PM CST.  The local radio broadcast is on WWL-870 AM and 105.3 FM.