All fans age 12 and over planning to attend Kraken games at Climate Pledge Arena will need to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and all will be required to wear a mask.
The team on Tuesday announced the policy for NHL games as well as concerts and other events at the arena, due to reopen in mid-October after a $1 billion overhaul that began more than two years ago. The masking policy is for the short term and could be adapted depending on further COVID-19 guidance from the state and public health officials.
COVID-19 restrictions have recently returned to arenas and stadiums to offset the spread of the delta variant.
Last month, Gov. Jay Inslee brought back a statewide mask requirement, and Public Health — Seattle and King County reinstated mask requirements for outdoor events with more than 500 people regardless of vaccination status for everyone 5 and older.
“On March 1, 2018, we started this amazing journey together to build a new arena under a historical roof and bring the 32nd NHL franchise to Seattle,” Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said in a statement. “We are now poised to open Climate Pledge Arena and celebrate together, at capacity, in an environment that is safe for our fans, staff, players and artists.”
Not long after the Kraken’s announcement, the Seahawks put out a release stating its fans will also need to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours for games at Lumen Field this season. The team’s home opener is fewer than two weeks away, leaving an inadequate amount of time for unvaccinated fans to get their two doses and wait the required 14-day period to be considered completely inoculated — hence, the negative test option.
The Sounders then announced an identical policy, only theirs will begin Oct. 3, the first home game at Lumen Field after the new Seahawks edict goes into effect.
The Kraken is not allowing unvaccinated fans in, even with a negative test result. The team said that by announcing its vaccine-only policy Tuesday, it is leaving fans ample time to get both injections and have them become effective before the regular season begins.
The NHL and its players association have unveiled a list of stringent COVID-19 guidelines aimed at severely restricting any unvaccinated players. They will be mostly confined to hotel rooms on the road and subject to being docked pay for any games missed due to contracting COVID-19, being in close contact with anybody that comes down with it, or being denied permission to cross the Canada-U.S. border.
The league also requires all media and any support staffers coming within 12 feet of players to be vaccinated, which led to the resignation last week of San Jose Sharks associate coach Rocky Thompson — who says an undisclosed medical condition prevents him from getting vaccinated.
But the NHL has declined to impose vaccination mandates at arenas, leaving it up individual teams, arenas and states to set their own guidelines. The Winnipeg Jets last month were the first to require full vaccination for fans attending home games, followed by the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs and last week the Sharks, who became the first U.S.-based club to mandate it.
The Kraken plays its Climate Pledge home opener Oct. 23 against the Vancouver Canucks. The team plans to introduce a smartphone application for fans to show vaccination status quickly and avoid undue delays entering the venue.
All three Kraken preseason home games being played in Spokane, Everett and Kent will also require proof of vaccination. In addition, fans planning to attend training camp starting Sept. 23 at the Kraken Community Iceplex at the Northgate Mall site will also need to show proof of vaccination.
Fans planning to visit the Community Iceplex for other non-practice events and to shop at the team store will not require proof of vaccination but will need to wear masks. The team plans an open house at that $80 million facility starting Friday and running through Sunday in which fans can tour the venue and take part in open skating.
This story will be updated.