Los Angeles Times
Fan fare — food, tickets, etc., will have new rules
It has been 13 months since Lakers fans last packed Staples Center. It was a wrenching loss to a much different Brooklyn Nets team. A lot has happened since then, but none of it has played out in front of spectators.
The drought ends Thursday when the Lakers host the rival Boston Celtics.
The 2,000 people who scored tickets will have to adapt to safety precautions implemented because of COVID-19.
The county allows 25% capacity at indoor venues, but Staples Center is starting with a smaller group and will monitor progress before deciding whether to expand capacity.
Event staff wants fans to know things will be different than attending a Dodgers game, where, for example, fans can bring clear bags and remove their masks to eat at their seats.
Staples President Lee Zeidman said the adjustments are key to making everyone safe at an indoor event during a pandemic.
“It’s exciting as I walk the building to see everybody back,” Zeidman said. “And it’s going to be even more exciting to see the fans coming back to the building knowing that, first and foremost, we’ve made it safe and secure.”
If safety measures go smoothly and the spread of COVID-19 continues to fall in Southern California, the arena could be back at full capacity on June 15. The NBA and NHL will be in the playoffs by then and in August, Staples Center has a pair of Justin Bieber concerts and will be welcoming back the Sparks.
For now, comprehensive safety protocols are in place. Here’s a guide for how to attend an event at Staples Center:
All tickets will be digital and can be accessed through the AXS app or Lakers app beginning with Thursday’s game. Tickets will be sold in groups called “households” to emphasize that it’s safer to be near people who live in the same home. Households will be seated six feet from others. Courtside seats will be placed 12 feet back to ensure the safety of unmasked players.
“You’ll be able to get close, but maybe not as close as before,” said Danielle Snyder, Staples Center senior vice president of guest services and security.
So, yes, Jack Nicholson can resume watching games relatively close to the floor.
Negative COVID test or vaccine
Staples Center is requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter the arena.
This doesn’t mean a quick buzzer-beating shot. Fans must be fully vaccinated with at least two weeks having passed since their final dose to be admitted. Be sure to bring a photo ID.
To avoid crowds at entrances and be as contactless as possible, there is a nobag policy for the first time at Staples Center. That means not even small, clear bags. Everything must fit in your pockets.
Staples Center will provide complimentary feminine hygiene products in restrooms.
There will be exceptions for medical bags and diaper bags, which will be screened in an X-ray machine at the entrances. The bags cannot be larger than 14-by-14-by-6 inches.
There will be a limited number of lockers available outside the entrance.
Parking passes at the main parking lots will be digital and can be purchased at axs.com. Again, Staples Center is going as contactless as possible.
Masks will be required for all fans ages 2 and up. Masks must cover the nose and mouth and be worn while inside the arena. Bandanas and neck gaiters are not permitted. A face shield cannot be worn in place of a mask. Staff will be reminding fans to keep their masks on at all times.
Instead of scanning tickets and going through security at the door of Staples Center, the footprint of the arena has expanded into Chick Hearn Court between Georgia and Figueroa streets and the plaza in LA Live next to Microsoft Theater.
Fans will now enter through the North entrance on Chick Hearn (at the intersection of Georgia Street) or at the plaza entrance in front of the building that houses the NOVO, Yard House and Starbucks.
Touchless hand-sanitizer dispensers are located throughout the arena. Also, Staples Center has added several sanitization measures, including UV lighting on all elevator buttons and escalator rails.
Social distancing will be observed throughout the arena. There will be placards throughout the venue to help patrons stay six feet apart.
Staples Center is going cashless this year. All concessions and merchandise must be paid for with a debit or credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. No-fee cash-to-card kiosks also are located throughout the arena to convert cash into a physical or digital card that can be used for purchases.
All concessions will be cashless and orders will be placed online from one’s seat using a provided QR code. Fans will be alerted when their order is ready via text message and they can then go to the concourse to pick it up. Fans will not be allowed to eat at their seats. There will be designated areas in the concourse or outside to eat and drink.
All restrooms will have limited capacity and have been equipped with touchless soap and towel dispensers.
Staples Center is now a nonsmoking venue, including the outdoor area where smoking previously was allowed.
Staples Center has enhanced its ventilation system with a new HVAC system in response to the pandemic and in an effort to reduce airborne toxins.