With news having arrived on Friday about concert venues and theaters being permitted to resume indoor events later this month at reduced capacity in California, the calendar at the Chase Center is already filling up once again.
Nothing is for certain when it comes to public health orders and changes in case counts over the next few months, but the staff at the Chase Center have been optimistically preparing to reopen since long before Friday's announcement. And beginning with a pair of Phish shows on July 24 and 25 — originally on the calendar for last July — the arena is preparing to welcome concertgoers back indoors, with tickets already on sale. More shows are on the books in September and October, some rescheduled from last year, including Celine Dion (9/3), Tame Impala (9/15), Pet Shop Boys and New Order (10/13), The Eagles (10/22 & 10/23), and James Taylor and Jackson Browne (10/29).
The venue is making a public presentation today about its "Chase Center Clean Initiative," with details about it plans to keep basketball game and concert attendees safe in the coming months. These include newly installed HEPA filters in elevators, electrostatic sprayers for disinfecting seats, and a state-of-the-art HVAC system that can run entirely on outside air, as the Chronicle reports.
"When COVID happened, we moved quickly to get a structure in place,” says Kim Stone, general manager of Chase Center, speaking to the Chronicle. "We were one of the first venues in the country to create a health and hygiene department. The idea was, 'Let’s just be ready. Let’s have plans in place.' We’re going to end up scrapping 90% of those plans, but we will be ready with the other 10%."
The venue's new procedures are going to be put to the test with a handful of Warriors home games before the regular season is over — and according to one betting site, the Warriors have about a 77% chance of making the playoffs this year. The Warriors are set to play three games at home against the Denver Nuggets starting April 23, and then six home games in a row against the Oklahoma City Thunder starting May 6.
According to the new state guidelines announced Friday, for counties like San Francisco that are currently in the "Orange" tier, venues with capacities over 1,500 can allow tickets to be sold up to 35% capacity if all guests show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. That capacity goes up to 50% in the "Yellow" tier, which San Francisco is likely to enter in the next couple of weeks, possibly before the April 15 date when the new state rules take effect.
At 35%, the Chase Center would be able to have 6,300 attendees at games and concerts; at 50%, that number goes up to 9,000. If we end up in a "Green" tier by the fall before complete reopening occurs, the arena could approach its full capacity of 18,064 — a number the Chase Center only operated at for six months before the pandemic hit, following its September 2019 debut.
San Francisco may still opt for stricter limits than the state allows, but the city has already worked out a deal with the Giants to allow Oracle Park back open starting later this week at 22% capacity, or 9,200 guests — albeit that's all outdoors.
Concerts likely aren't going to be the raucous affairs we remember for quite some time — with rules being enforced keeping attendees in seats, socially distant, with masks on at all times and no drinks in hand. In-seat concession sales are being allowed at outdoor sports stadiums, but for indoor concert and sports venues, eating and drinking will only be allowed in designated areas, not in seats.
As the Chronicle notes, it's still not clear whether it's even financially feasible for all of these national touring acts to do shows at severely limited capacity. And when asked about that, Stone just sounds a note of optimism.
"I just look forward to the roar of the crowd again,” she tells the Chronicle. “I’m more focused on getting us open because we can be part of the story of the resiliency of this industry. We can be a symbol of hope and optimism. This disaster happened; now let’s shift."