Health care workers will make up all 1,500 fans that the Phoenix Suns’ welcome Sunday against the Boston Celtics. It’ll be the first time fans will attend a Suns home game in 2020-21, and team president Jason Rowley said the interest shown from that relatively small community surprised the team.
Within the first 10 hours after the team announced it would offer health care workers complimentary tickets, more than 10,000 of them contacted the Suns with interest in attending, Rowley told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show.
“Just seeing that response really indicates how much pent-up demand and desire there is, certainly for the Suns, but I think even more so getting back to some level of normalcy,” Rowley added Thursday. “That was surprising to us. I wasn’t sure what the numbers would look like, particularly since it’s Super Bowl Sunday.”
Only 1,500 fans will be allowed into games at the renovated Phoenix Suns Arena to start.
Admission for the general population begins on Monday when the Suns host the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Season ticket holders can begin buying presales for the eight remaining games in the front half of Phoenix’s 2020-21 schedule on Thursday. Single-game tickets for non-season ticket holders go on sale Friday.
Tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The Suns decided to begin allowing fans after consulting the NBA, health officials and the city of Phoenix, Rowley said.
“The bottom line is we feel like we’re extremely — we know we’re extremely confident in the plan we’ve put together,” he added.
Local coronavirus case counts have slowly receded in the past several weeks.
Arizona health officials on Thursday reported 4,417 new coronavirus cases — ending a three-day streak under 4,000 — and 176 additional deaths from COVID-19.
Of the 29,430 people tested so far this week, 14% received a positive result. The recorded positive rate for last week is 16% for 125,908 people tested, the lowest since before Thanksgiving and the fourth consecutive weekly decline.
Official positivity rates are based on when the samples are taken, not when they are reported, so the percentage for recent weeks can fluctuate as labs get caught up on testing and the results are documented by the state.
The seven-day average for the state health department’s newly reported coronavirus cases was at 4,116.86 for Wednesday, according to tracking by The Associated Press, the lowest mark since Nov. 30 but still higher than the July peak of the first wave.