Limited fans returning to the Staples Center stands for indoor sporting events by the summer's playoffs is a "realistic timeline," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday, adding that he is in favor of using "vaccine passports" to allow vaccinated fans to gather safely indoors at sporting events.
With California's governor recently hinting that fans could return to outdoor ballparks in time for opening day, LA's mayor said Monday he was looking forward to Dodger Stadium being at 10% or 25% capacity for April's first pitch.
However, outdoor venues operating at limited capacity and indoor venues hosting audiences at limited capacity pose two entirely different challenges given the nature of the coronavirus and how it spreads.
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)."
Garcetti said he wanted residents who stepped up to get the vaccine to earn some rewards for their action.
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"I want vaccines to come with something good," Garcetti said. "I don't want it to just be something we have to slog through."
While the state and county have greater authority to allow fans--vaccinated or not--to attend indoor sporting and entertainment events, the mayor's attitude and comments Monday signaled that "MVP" chants for LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard should echo at Staples Center before the next NBA champion is crowned.
The mayor said he hoped that at least limited fans would be gracing the stands in time for the NBA playoffs, when the Lakers could face the Clippers in the postseason for the first time ever.
"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."