It’s been a long time since the Los Angeles Lakers last played a game in front of their fans at Staples Center — 372 days to be exact — and while they still don’t know when exactly when they’ll have fans in the stands again, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently told Shahan Ahmed of NBC Los Angeles that he wouldn’t be surprised to see fans back by the time the postseason starts on May 22:
“We don’t have dates yet for NBA,” Garcetti said. “I would hope by playoffs, when one or both of our LA teams is in the playoffs—both of them should get there—we should have some limited capacity and get fans back.”
Garcetti added, “To me, that is absolutely a realistic timeline, with the projection of the vaccines.”
Garcetti’s hopeful forecast came on the same day that Los Angeles County moved into the less-restrictive “red tier” of their four-step re-opening plan, which allowed restaurants, movie theaters, gyms and other non-essential businesses to re-open at limited capacity. It also opened the possibility for the Los Angeles Dodgers to have fans at Dodger Stadium for their opening day game against the Colorado Rockies on April 1.
Of course, there’s one key difference between Dodger Stadium and Staples Center and it’s the fact that Dodger Stadium is outside. In order to host fans inside, Staples Center will have to take extra precautions, and Garcetti expressed his support for one on Monday:
Asked about whether a vaccine passport would be something that factors into allowing fans back into indoor arenas to watch the local Lakers, Clippers or Kings, the mayor expressed support for the idea.
“Personally, I love the idea of ‘Show us you’re vaccinated,’” Garcett said on the topic of vaccine passports being used as a tool to put fans in the stands at NBA games.
“We know the guidance from CDC, from our county, from the state is that you can do much more even indoors if you have been vaccinated and you’re with people who have been vaccinated, so I think that opens the door to even indoor (audiences).”
According to the Los Angeles Times, over 13 million people in California have been vaccinated as of March 17, which is 22.4% of the state’s population. Los Angeles County has administered the most doses of the vaccine at 3.14 million.
There’s obviously still a ton of work to be done, but there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic that the Lakers will get the opportunity to play postseason basketball in front of their fans for the first time since 2013. And who knows? — by the time the postseason over, maybe things will safe enough to have a championship parade to celebrate at least one championship.