Madison Square Garden to welcome fans back for Knicks, Rangers games

New York City’s Madison Square Garden will welcome back fans in a week, officials announced Tuesday, as the city creeps toward normalcy with the reopening of large venues at very limited capacity.

The arena in Midtown Manhattan will reopen with the Knicks hosting the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 23, according to a statement from the the team, the Garden and the Rangers, which will have fans in the stands for its Feb. 26 match against the Boston Bruins.

The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will also welcome fans back on Feb. 23 for the Nets game against the Sacramento Kings.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week that large stadiums and arenas could reopen on Feb. 23 given attendees provide proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test within 72 hours before an event.

Cuomo’s announcement followed a successful pilot program at a Buffalo Bills game, in which 6,700 fans in attendance showed negative tests and agreed to contact tracing.

The arenas can only open at 10 percent capacity, which means about 2,000 at MSG and 1,900 at Barclays.

The statement from MSG said the limited capacity will mean tickets will likely be available at first only to season ticket members and suite holders, and not the general public.

Essential workers will also be hosted and recognized at every game.

All guests will be subjected to a health screening and temperature check, and masks will be mandatory.

“Madison Square Garden is The World’s Most Famous Arena because of the people who perform here and the fans that inspire them. We are thrilled that we can finally start to welcome fans back, beginning with Knicks and Rangers games, and be part of this important step for our city,” said MSG Entertainment President Andrew Lustgarten.

The Milwaukee Bucks will also be filling Fiserv Forum stands to 10 percent capacity beginning Feb. 21. Fewer fans in increasing intervals will be allowed to attend three games leading up to that one.

And the Miami Heat has enjoyed a small crowd since last month. Fans arriving at America Airlines Arena have been screened by Covid-19 sniffing dogs before entering.