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Hockey

Columbus Blue Jackets to play games without fans present

Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins follows the puck during a recent game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins follows the puck during a recent game at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
(Kirk Irwin / Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets became the first NHL team to say it will play in an empty arena, announcing on Wednesday that it will abide by a mandate from the state of Ohio that prohibits mass gatherings to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The first game to be affected will be the Blue Jackets’ game Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena.

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors announced earlier Wednesday that they will close the Chase Center to the public at their next home game, Thursday against the Brooklyn Nets.

In a statement, the Blue Jackets outlined the conditions that will prevail for all home games while the state order is in effect.

“Admission to games will be limited to home and visiting club personnel, credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff and NHL officials. The games will be closed to the public,” the statement said. “The health and well-being of our community is our priority and we appreciate the understanding of our fans, corporate partners and guests under these extraordinary circumstances. Our games will continue to be televised regionally on FOX Sports Ohio and available on the Blue Jackets Radio Network, including flagship station 97.1 The Fan or CD102.5 FM (select games) in Columbus.

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“The club will work with season ticket, club and premium seat holders on appropriate credits or refunds for affected games, while single-game buyers will receive a refund through their point of purchase. The club will be communicating to season ticket holders, partners and other affected parties with additional information soon.”

Precautionary measures previously taken by NHL teams include banning media from locker rooms and advising players to limit close contact with fans, in the interest of slowing the spread of the coronavirus.


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