Sports stadiums, venues considering ‘vaccinated’ seating sections

Nation and World News

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)– From stages to stadiums people in New York City will soon be seated by whether or not they’ve been vaccinated at some of their favorite venues. Could Charlotte be next?

Baseball is back in full swing. For New York fans, seating might be better if you’re fully vaccinated. The Yankees and Mets announced special seating with fewer social distancing restrictions. It’s an idea the Charlotte Knights says was pitched and struck out.

“We certainly discussed it,” said Charlotte Knights General Manager Rob Egan.

Fans wearing masks filed into Truist Field in uptown to watch the Knights play ball. Major League Baseball requires masks for all of its stadiums, including the minor leagues. The Knights are limiting capacity and encouraging social distancing, which Egan feels is enough to keep fans safe.

“When you’re talking about 30 and 40 and 50,000-seat stadiums, it makes some of those things a little more practical,” said Egan. “In our situation, we have a little smaller footprint, a little less capacity. So, it’s harder with social distancing requirements to do something just like that at this point.”

Critics worry about privacy and say special seating discriminates against fans who aren’t vaccinated.

“It’s going to cause a lot of problems,” said Kaylisa Rogers. “It’s going take [people] all the way back to segregation-feeling…so people are really going to be upset about it, ‘cause a lot of people is not vaccinate [sic].”

Blumenthal Performing Arts says it has “no plans” to do vaccinated seating.

“We have no plans of doing this,” said Blumenthal director of marketing and publicity Brandon Carter, “and will continue to follow protocols established by the state.”

FOX 46 reached out to the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte FC, Charlotte Hornets, the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Fillmore. None responded when we asked if they are considering vaccinated seating sections.

“To the extent they’re private entities, they have a lot of leeway,” said Charlotte sports law attorney John Nipp, “in what they can and can’t do and require of you to come on their premises.”

Nipp thinks local sports teams and venues are likely considering this option. He does not believe special seating violates patient privacy laws because fans are voluntarily disclosing if they have been vaccinated.

“Typically in the law if you’re able to show a good reason for doing something, the law usually finds a way to make it legal,” said Nipp. “And, in this case, as long as they have an argument, ‘We need to do this to even be able to have these events or have fans in the stands for these events,’ they’ll probably find a way to make it legal.”

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