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Bucks Announce Plans To Phase In Fans At Fiserv Forum

Anyone Sitting Within 30 Feet Of Court Will Receive Rapid COVID-19 Test

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball playoff finals against the Toronto Raptors Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Milwaukee. Morry Gash/AP Photo

The Milwaukee Bucks will welcome fans to Fiserv Forum for the first time in nearly a year, the team announced Tuesday.

The Milwaukee Health Department will allow the team to host fans at 10 percent of the venue’s capacity. The Bucks hope to expand to 25 percent capacity — or about 4,300 fans — during the second half of the NBA season, team officials said. But for now, the plan is to start small.

“As you can imagine, this is a very big day for us,” said Bucks and Fiserv Forum President Peter Feigin. “The fans are the lifeblood of our game. They give our players the extra boost. They give our employees a reason to serve. This is going to be a fun night.”

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When the Bucks host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, there will be 250 invited guests in attendance — mostly essential workers and players’ families. The Bucks plan to scale up during the remainder of their home stand, with 500 fans at their game Thursday and 750 Friday.

Against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the Bucks will host paying fans for the first time since last March. The team plans to welcome 1,800 spectators, with tickets going on sale Thursday. Presale opportunities are available for season ticket holders and newsletter subscribers, team officials said.

The Bucks will implement a number of new safety precautions in order to allow for the return of fans.

Ticket holders will enter Fiserv Forum at specified times to avoid crowds at the gate. Inside, everyone will be required to wear masks unless eating or drinking, and all concessions will be contactless. Tickets will be sold in groups of two or four, and anyone sitting within 30 feet of the court will be required to receive a rapid COVID-19 test provided by the team.

Ultimately, the Bucks might offer different seating protocols for fans who’ve been vaccinated, Feigin said.

At a news conference Tuesday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett recalled reaching out to Feigin nearly a year ago after the NBA canceled its first game due to the coronavirus pandemic, an early sign of the serious things to come.

“When I made that call, I never dreamed that 11 months later we would still be fighting to get out lives back to normal,” Barrett said.

Barrett thanked the Bucks for being a good partner amid the pandemic.

“When we talk about partnership, what we mean is that the Bucks came to us, and they said, ‘We want to reopen, we want to do it safely, and we want to work with you. We will cooperate, we will listen to your expertise, and we will be solution oriented,’ which for the health department, has been a breath of fresh air,” said Milwaukee’s interim health commissioner Marlaina Jackson.

The health department has plans to ramp up its contact tracing efforts now that it has more capacity as COVID-19 cases are declining in the region, and it will continue to monitor its gating criteria moving forward, she said. Those criteria include case positivity, testing numbers, hospital capacity and personal protective equipment supply.

Several NBA teams are already hosting spectators, and Bucks general manager Jon Horst said players have enjoyed seeing them.

“Just on behalf of the Bucks players, the coaching staff and our front office, I just wanted to share how excited we are and how thankful we are for the opportunity to play in front of fans,” he said.