Some Pro Sports Teams Nix COVID Vaccinations, Negative Test Requirements For Fans

Across the United States, a number of professional sports teams have begun to relax COVID-19 vaccination policies at their respective indoor arenas.

This includes teams from a variety of pro sports leagues, most notably the National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Despite this trend, however, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still recommends that people attending mass gatherings be vaccinated, in addition to additional preventative measures such as wearing masks.

The CDC also notes that "indoor spaces are more risky than outdoor spaces because it can be harder to maintain physical distancing indoors."

The NHL's Nashville Predators, meanwhile, announced Wednesday that guests attending their home games would no longer be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or even show proof of a negative COVID test.

However, Bridgestone Arena, the home of the Predators, still stated that "masks remain strongly recommended for those attending a game or event at Bridgestone Arena."

Bridgestone Arena
The Nashville Predators are one of a handful of teams who are relaxing their COVID-19 policies for visitors to their arena. Here, Bridgestone Arena, the Predators' home rink, can be seen. Frederick Breedon/Getty

Bridgestone Arena also implemented this new policy in regard to other events such as concerts or other large gatherings.

The relaxed policy, which will go into effect on November 13, is reportedly due to a lowering of new cases in Nashville and the surrounding area.

Bridgestone Arena and Predators CEO Sean Henry said that "we are encouraged that the data trends are moving briskly in a positive direction; today's announcement is consistent with our original intention to update our protocols as case counts and transmission levels evolved."

Nashville has dropped below the CDC's "substantial" transmission level—which tracks new COVID cases per 100,000 people each week—prompting the change in the Predators' vaccination policy.

The Predators were joined in this new policy by the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks announced Monday that, similarly to the Predators, fans visiting their arena, the American Airlines Center, would also not need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

Masks, however, are still required to be worn at all times.

The new policy, which will be implemented on November 15, will be effective for all fans sitting at least 15 feet away from the playing court. For people sitting closer, proof of vaccination or a negative test will still be required.

Unlike the Predators, the Mavericks share the building with another professional club, the NHL's Dallas Stars. While the Stars also require masks, they do not have any such vaccine screenings in place.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that this decision was also based on similarly falling case rates in and around Dallas. He did warn, however, that the policy was subject to change based on the CDC's community transmission guidelines.

"We have always followed the science. Now we are instituting protections for those who need it and responding to the 70+ percent decline in cases per day," Cuban tweeted. "If the numbers get worse again, we will bring back the policy."

Newsweek has reached out to the CDC for comment.