Madison Square Garden has been rocking for the Knicks’ first two playoff games in eight years. Only in such an electric environment could Hawks star Trae Young become such a villain. (Nearly all the jeering has been in good fun without crossing the line.)
But New York’s arena hasn’t been completely full. Though vaccinated sections are packed, unvaccinated sections require open seats for social distancing.
That setup will change if the Knicks advance to the second round. Against the 76ers or Wizards (76ers), Madison Square Garden would sell tickets only fully vaccinated fans.
Ian Begley of SNY:
Knicks announce that Game 5 of their series against ATL is sold out, with a crowd of 16,000 expected. Knicks also say that if they advance past the first round “tickets will be sold exclusively to fully-vaccinated individuals.” pic.twitter.com/XJ5ehfjGmj
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 28, 2021
This seems like a smart business decision. Almost certainly, enough vaccinated people will buy tickets to fill the arena. The Knicks don’t need to let seats go unused to accommodate unvaccinated people.
Every team should explore this plan. Maybe it won’t be optimal in every market. But in places where the demand of vaccinated people is high enough, teams that implement this restriction will produce more revenue.
Obviously, teams are responding to laws requiring social distancing among unvaccinated people. But even in a completely free market, similar incentives would apply. Teams want to create a fun, safe environment for their fans. Vaccinations make people and those around them safer. And a fully packed arena brings a better mood.
Of course, the Knicks must first get past Atlanta – which won’t be easy.