On Dec. 7, the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers, received a WELL certification from the International Well Building Institute (IWBI). As a result, this means that the arena has passed all COVID-19 safety protocols and should have no issues having home games when the new season starts in January.
But the big question is this – what new rules could we be seeing at these home games? With a current surge of new cases within the country, it’s easy to be wary of going into public for any reason at all. Because of this, here’s what will possibly be implemented at the BB&T center for this upcoming season and future events until the pandemic is over.
While the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has given the all-clear to let stadiums reach their full capacity throughout the Sunshine State, the Panthers are more than likely not going to go through with that quite just yet. With that, it’s probable that the stadium, much like others across Florida, will be at a diminished capacity throughout most of the season.
But for the Panthers, it may feel like just another home game for them as they tend to rank towards the bottom of the attendance charts throughout the league.
This was probably the most expected out of all of the new rulings. Much like most of the country, many areas require you to wear a mask in a public, environment such as a restaurant or a gym. This would be no exception to the rule as a mask mandate will be enforced for all public events held at the arena until further notice. The only exception would be consuming food or drinking a beverage for an extended period of time, in which you can keep your mask off while doing so.
On the bright side, it allows fans to get creative with what masks they wear, as most are sold featuring their team logos or are made with a special pattern. In addition, the arena may give out free ones of their own to avoid attendees having to walk back to their car. For those who go to games, most people remember fondly that walk of shame.
Socially Distant Seating
Once again, this is another obvious regulation for the upcoming season. For certain groups of fans attending, the stadium will put tarp or block off at least six feet worth of space to ensure that groups and patrons are distant from one another to avoid spreading the virus. Additionally, unless it is within their group, fans will more than likely not be able to walk over and high five or celebrate a big moment with other fans.
Nothing beats having fun with random people you may never see again at a hockey game. But for the sake of safety, this is completely understanding.
Most businesses, both big and small, are encouraging people to use card or contactless forms of currency, rather than cash, to avoid more contact on surfaces to spread germs. The BB&T Center may not be an exception to this ruling as they may have all concession stands, parking booths, and team shops only accept card or NFC transactions to ensure the virus is kept contained.
For example, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens recently went the same direction for Miami Dolphins home games. So it would not come as a surprise to see the Panthers impose the same.
Now, this is only really enforced in certain environments throughout the country, but it wouldn’t seem like a bad idea to bring it into BB&T for the season. Using a special heat checking tool, the security guards outside the front doors of the arena could check fans’ temperatures to ensure no one has a fever of over 100.4 degrees.
The only issue is that if the temperature check is outdoors, rather than inside the arena, it could get a bad reading and a person may be sent home, despite being completely healthy.
The New Normal?
Obviously, these regulations and safety procedures will not last forever. However, due to the current climate, these may be seen as a necessary restriction to contain the virus. As previously mentioned, most stadiums across Florida have also been enforcing their own rules to make sure that their respective arenas are safe and secure, so there is no reason why the Panthers would be unable to do it. On the bright side, we will get a hockey season starting next month, so if this works out well for the team, we may be closer to getting back to our true normal.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!