PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Trail Blazers on Monday announced that the Moda Center will expand capacity for Thursday’s home playoff game against the Denver Nuggets with vaccinated sections.
“With this announcement we're able to increase our capacity to 8000 for playoff games, which is a great thing for our organization, obviously it's a great thing for the community as well,” said Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan.
The Blazers will host Game 3 on Thursday and Game 4 on Saturday.
Vaccinated sections will be available to fully vaccinated fans who are 16 and older and are at least two weeks removed from their second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). For the May 27 game, the last vaccination date is on or before May 13. For the May 29 game, the last vaccination date is on or before May 15.
The Blazers said fans will be required to provide proof of full vaccination with a CDC-issued vaccination card or a digital or printed photo of their vaccination card.
Those sitting in vaccinated sections won't be physically distanced, but they'll still have to wear a face mask.
“We think it's easier to enforce that versus some wearing masks, some not wearing masks, and fortunately in our 10% capacity test people are really willing to wear a mask in our arena,” said McGowan.
Children ages 15 or younger who have not been vaccinated will be allowed to sit in vaccinated sections with their parents or guardians.
Physically distanced sections will also be available for fans who are not eligible to sit in vaccinated sections.
The vaccinated sections were created in partnership with the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and local government officials, the Blazers said.
“We are thrilled to partner with the governor and Oregon Health Authority as the first indoor sports venue in Oregon with vaccinated sections,” said McGowan.
The Blazers and the Oregon Governor Kate Brown hope the vaccinated only sections will be another encouragement for people who are not yet vaccinated to do so. The governor said the timing is great for safely adding seats for people to cheer on the home team.
“They had a great game this weekend, we’re hoping for a solid victory tonight and I can’t think of anything more important than being able to win on your home turf with thousands of fans in the arena,” Governor Brown Said.
The Blazers are hosting 500 first responders, healthcare workers and community partners at Moda Center for Game 3 on May 27.
The Blazers said qualified ticket customers will receive an email with single-game ticketing information.
Multnomah County has applied to move to the lower risk level after meeting the state’s requirements last week. More than 65% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine and the county submitted its equity plan to the OHA on Friday. A spokesperson with the governor's office says the county is expected to be approved for low risk, and should move into that level by Thursday, May 27.
The lower risk level allows businesses to have a maximum of 50% capacity indoors. Under low risk, the Blazers would be able to welcome fans back to the Moda Center at 50% capacity, increasing the number of fans allowed inside the arena from the current allowed capacity of almost 2,000 to nearly 10,000.
The Blazers say vaccinated sections will allow up to 8,000 fans initially with the hope that number can increase in the coming weeks.
Oregon is planning to offer vaccinated only sections to other businesses, venues and faith institutions in low risk counties. The OHA will be updating its guidance this week.