Hornets fans welcomed back to Spectrum Center: What you need to know

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte Hornets will welcome back a limited number of fans at the Spectrum Center starting with the team’s game on March 13 against the Toronto Raptors, the Hornets announced in a news release on Tuesday.

The Hornets’ reopening plan was approved by state and county authorities. The team can host fans at 15% capacity, which is about 3,000 fans per game.

“Our television viewership, our ratings are up 50%, so that tells us there’s a lot of interest in our product,” Hornets President Fred Whitfield said.

Prior to reopening to the public, the Hornets will host frontline health care workers from longtime partner Novant Health on March 11 against Detroit for their work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

[PAST COVERAGE: Hornets to begin NBA season without fans at Spectrum Center]

Single-game tickets for the remainder of the 2020-21 season will go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. on March 5. They can be purchased at hornets.com or ticketmaster.com, on the Hornets App or by calling 1-800-4NBA-TIX.

The Hornets worked with state, county and city officials, local health agencies, infectious diseases specialists and the NBA to develop a reopening plan.

“This was uncharted territory,” said Donna Julian, Spectrum Center general manager and Hornets executive vice president. “There wasn’t a manual that we needed to do. We all created this together.”

Some of the new health and safety protocols include:

  • Face Masks Required: All fans over the age of 2 are required to wear a face mask that completely covers their nose and mouth at all times while inside Spectrum Center. The only exception is when fans are actively eating or drinking. Neck gaiters, bandanas or masks with valves or vents are not permitted.
  • Socially Distanced Seating: Tickets will be sold in pods of 1-4 seats throughout Spectrum Center. Please note that there is a limited amount of one- and three-seat pods. Each pod will have a six-foot radius surrounding it to maintain proper social distance. Seats not available for use will be clearly marked. Fans are to remain in their pod only and not relocate to other seats. Additionally, guests must maintain six feet of social distance at all times within Spectrum Center, including standing in lines at entrances or concession stands, using elevators or escalators, and walking on the concourse.
  • Mobile Ticking: In an effort to eliminate shared touchpoints, all tickets this season will be mobile. Access to tickets for Hornets games will be available by downloading the Hornets App. Fans who purchase tickets through Ticketmaster.com or the Ticketmaster App will also be able to access mobile tickets through the Ticketmaster App. The Spectrum Center Box Office will be closed. Fans will purchase their tickets online or by phone.
  • Contactless Ordering & Payment: Spectrum Center has created a 100% cashless experience at all concession stands and retail locations in an effort to eliminate the numerous shared touchpoints through cash transactions. The Hornets App has been expanded to allow guests to order and pay for concessions and retail items on mobile devices while utilizing express pick up.
  • Guest Health Screen: Before entering Spectrum Center, all guests and staff must complete a COVID-19 health screen, which will be available through the Hornets App. Passing the health screen questionnaire is required for entry.
  • Concessions: In partnership with Levy, a new, limited menu has been developed, featuring Grab & Go options. Spectrum Center food offerings will be individually wrapped and packaged, as will condiments, utensils, napkins and straws. Fans may only consume food at their seats or at designated locations on the concourses.
  • Entry & Exit Procedures: To ensure the safety of fans, Spectrum Center will implement a timed entry system and a staggered egress at the end of each game. There will be designated entry times and zones for fans in an effort to remain socially distanced and reduce congestion. Prior to each game, ticket holders will receive an email communication with entry times and zones. At the conclusion of each game, fans will be directed to specific doors and stairwells based on their seat locations.
  • Touchless Security: Spectrum Center has updated its security protocols at all entrances to include magnetometers and X-ray machines for touch-free bag checks. In an effort to reduce wait times upon entering the arena, it is recommended that guests do not bring bags to the games. The only bags allowed in Spectrum Center are tote bags, diaper bags and purses, smaller than 14″X14″X6″.

“We are thrilled to welcome Hornets fans back to Spectrum Center, even though it will be in a limited capacity,” Whitfield said. “The energy, excitement and passion that our fans bring every night to Spectrum Center has been missed by our players, coaches and staff, and we cannot wait to have them back in the Hive. This is a great first step for not only our fans, but our city and our entire community. On behalf of our entire organization, I’d like to thank Gov. Cooper, Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio and our state and county health officials for their leadership, guidance and input throughout this process as we worked to reopen Spectrum Center to our fans.”

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The Hornets have been constantly examining, evaluating and improving Spectrum Center’s cleaning, sanitation and air filtration systems as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

Along with previous procedures that were previously in place, the Hornets have implemented the following:

  • Air Filtration & Purification: The Hornets have worked with industry experts to increase Spectrum Center’s levels of air filtration and purification. The arena has installed MERV-13 or better filtration and maintains optimal building conditions for virus control, including humidity levels between 40-60%.
  • Honeywell Partnership: Additionally, the Hornets have partnered with global and industry leader Honeywell to improve indoor air quality. Honeywell’s Healthy Building Dashboard integrates with Spectrum Center’s automated system to provide analytics around indoor air quality performance, while monitoring temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide, particle matter values and more.
  • Cleaning & Disinfecting Procedures: The Hornets are undertaking enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures – based on CDC recommendations – throughout the facility. Some measures include: increasing concentration and frequency of deep-cleaning efforts in high-touch/high-traffic areas, using EPA-approved disinfectant, utilizing electrostatic sprayers and fogging technology within public areas on a daily basis and third-party evaluation of cleaning and disinfecting procedures by infection control specialists.
  • Sanitizing Stations: Spectrum Center has increased the number of touchless hand sanitizing stations throughout the arena, including all concession locations, elevators and entrances.
  • Plexiglass Dividers: For the safety of everyone involved, clear plastic dividers have been installed at locations where team members and guests interact, including security checkpoints at all entrances and checkout locations at concession stands and in the Hornets Fan Shop.

For more information regarding the new health and safety protocols, cleaning and sanitizing procedures and ticket information, fans should visit hornets.com/welcomeback.