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OKC Thunder announces plans for reduced seating at Chesapeake Energy Arena

The Thunder plans to have a limited number of fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena when the NBA season begins Dec. 22. 

The Thunder and ASM Global, which manages the arena, announced Tuesday night new health and safety protocols for the upcoming season. 

In addition to a reduced crowd, which will be determined according to local government guidance and industry standards, there will be six feet of distance between groups of fans, required face masks, contactless ticket scanning and concession purchases and mandated, strict hygiene and disinfecting procedures throughout the building. 

The guidelines, according to a release, were developed by a health and safety task force comprised of representatives from the Thunder, ASM Global, Oklahoma City officials, the OKC-County Health Department, OU Health and the NBA. 

"We remain focused on providing a safe and healthy environment for our guests as they return to enjoy the Thunder basketball experience," said Danny Barth, the Thunder's executive vice president and chief administrative officer. 

An upgraded HVAC system and electrostatic sprayers to disperse disinfectants are listed among the health and safety improvements in response to COVID-19. 

The physical distancing will extend to common spaces, like elevators and restrooms, and hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the arena. Plexiglass barriers will be installed at concession stands. 

According to the release, all Chesapeake Energy Arena employees will undergo health and safety training prior to the season. 

The Thunder launched a webpage with all of its reopening information. The Chesapeake Energy Reopening Guide is 55 pages. 

Fans last attended the arena for a Thunder game on March 11, when it became known just before tip-off that Jazz center Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The game was postponed and the season was suspended until late July. The season resumed in a bubble environment at Disney World, and no player contracted COVID-19 while in the bubble. 

The Oklahoma State Department of Health reported 1,702 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. The U.S. recently surpassed 10 million cases, raising questions about the safety of bringing back fans

Related Photos
Drone image of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Image by Dave Morris.

Drone image of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Image by Dave Morris.

<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Drone image of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Image by Dave Morris." title="Drone image of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Image by Dave Morris."><figcaption>Drone image of Chesapeake Energy Arena. Image by Dave Morris.</figcaption></figure>
Joe Mussatto

Joe Mussatto joined The Oklahoman in August 2018 to cover OU football, men’s basketball and softball. He previously covered University of Kentucky football and basketball for SEC Country. Mussatto is from Oklahoma City and lives in Norman. Read more ›