The Lightning have been preparing for the return of fans and await word from the league on when they can. The team allowed just under 2,000 season-ticket holders into Amalie Arena to watch the Stanley Cup games, which served as a test run for how to socially distance fans in the seating bowl, move people safely in and out of the arena and utilize online purchasing to prevent crowded concession lines.
Amalie Arena has been refitted to meet all coronavirus facility standards, utilizing $2.4 million in CARES Act funding for improvements that include bipolar ionization for the arena's HVAC system, backpack sanitation units, touchless ticket scanners and plexiglass barriers for queue lines and concessions areas.
The arena is again booking live events for the new year, including Christian pop artist TobyMac for two performances in mid-February that will be capped at approximately 2,000 tickets to allow for social distancing.
The league also wants fans back in the stands, and part of the delay in finalizing a season format seems to be that it was hoping the situation with the virus would improve. Obviously, that hasn't been the case. Daly said last week that the league hopes games can be played in home arenas by the beginning of the 2021-22 season but offered no promises for the upcoming season.
"Our objective going in was to put ourselves in a position where we could maximize the ability to welcome fans back to games," Daly said. "I can't say that the world at large is cooperating with that objective currently, so we have to deal with that reality and we stay on top of what the local restrictions and regulations are in each of our 31 markets."