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D.C. government allows professional sports teams to request permission to host fans

The Washington Wizards have applied to get some fans in the arena this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Washington Wizards
We are closer to seeing fans at D.C. sporting venues, including Capital One Arena.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

On Monday, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that professional sports teams can now ask for waivers to allow limited seating at their venues. Daniel Miller of WJLA-TV wrote a summary of the changes which also include extending the “last call” for alcohol to 12 a.m., opening high school sports and fitness classes. The announcements come as coronavirus cases drop in Washington and nationwide.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus solely on professional sports teams’ requests to bring fans to games.

Currently, sports teams cannot host fans in their stadiums. That said, two teams were already granted permission to host games this season: The MLB’s Washington Nationals can host up to 5,000 fans on April 1 for their home opener, since they apparently may not have applied for a waiver to hold fans yet. And the MLS’s DC United will host up to 2,000 fans for their home opener on April 17 since they have done so already. These teams play in outdoor venues, so it is presumably easier for them to host fans, especially now that the weather is improving.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Wizards, Mystics and Capitals will also apply for a waiver. According to Andrew Beaujon of Washingtonian Magazine, MSE Chief Administration Officer Monica Dixon said in a statement that the organization has submitted a waiver so the Wizards and Capitals can play games at Capital One Arena.

When can we expect Wizards and Capitals fans back at Cap One?

Given that DC United will host a game with fans on April 17 and the Nationals will likely have fans on April 1, we can expect to see the Wizards and Capitals to host some fans sometime in April as well. Capacity will probably not be over 10 percent initially.

The D.C. government is hedging on the possibility of changing capacity limits in April. If the situation continues to stay steady or improved, perhaps more fans will be allowed. However, if things get worse because of more contagious variants, sports teams may not be allowed to have fans in the coming weeks.

What about the Mystics?

The Mystics won’t play until May and the 2021 WNBA schedule still hasn’t been released yet.

Given what other teams are facing, they will likely have similar capacity restrictions at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, the smallest home venue in the WNBA. To limit ticket revenue losses, they could also move back to Capital One Arena (it was their sole home from 1998-2018) while also complying with regulations.