Utah Jazz will initially allow 1,500 fans in lower bowl for home games

People line up to vote at the Vivint Smart Home Arena Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City. AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

The Utah Jazz announced Tuesday that home games at Vivint Smart Home Arena for the coming 2020-21 season will be played with a limited number of fans allowed in the building.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, preseason games played at Vivint Arena will not have any fans, while the coming 72-game regular-season — which gets under way Dec. 22 — will see the team allow 1,500 fans into the lower bowl, and limited seating on the suite level, to go along with “a series of enhanced health and safety measures implemented throughout the building in consultation with the Utah Department of Health.”

“The Jazz believe this is a responsible way to start the season from a public health and safety standpoint. Our intent is to increase the number of fans as the season unfolds in compliance with state guidelines,” Jazz president Jim Olson said in a prepared statement. “We want to reassure our guests that we are taking the utmost precautions to have a safe and enjoyable experience as they return. We are optimistic for the future and continue to closely monitor the public health situation with State of Utah, Salt Lake County, and Salt Lake City officials as well as the NBA.”


The Utah Jazz have signed their two 2020 draft picks.

The club announced Tuesday that it has signed center Udoka Azubuike and forward Elijah Hughes. Terms of the deals were not announed, per Jazz team policy.

Azubuike, from Kansas, was selected 27th overall in the first round of last week’s draft. The 7-foot, 270-pound center was a four-year collegiate player and in 2019-20 posted averages of 13.7 points on 74.8 percent from the field, along with 10.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 31 games.

Hughes, from Syracuse, was drafted 39th overall in the second round by New Orleans and acquired by Utah on draft night. The 6-6, 215-pound forward led the ACC in scoring in 2019-20, averaging 19.0 points to go with 4.9 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.2 steals in 32 games (all starts).

Vivint Arena will implement myriad safety protocols as well, including mandatory face coverings (unless actively eating or drinking), mobile entry and screening procedures at all entrances to reduce interactions with staff, plexiglass barriers at point of sale locations, a cash-free environment accepting credit, debit and prepaid cards and mobile payments at all food and beverage and Jazz Team Store points of purchase, no bags, purses or clutches allowed (except diaper and medical bags, which will be X-rayed and cannot be larger than 14x14x6 inches) to expedite entry and reduce screening.

There will also be a new food and beverage mobile ordering system via the Jazz app, as well as express pickup locations, in-seat delivery for Jazz Team Store merchandise shopping through the Jazz app, hand sanitizer stations located throughout the arena, electrostatic sprayers used to evenly disperse disinfectants, and an upgraded HVAC system “for higher quality of filtered air to meet NBA standards during pandemic.”

Meanwhile, all arena employees will undergo touchless temperature screening before entering the arena, and will be required to wear face coverings for the duration of every event.

“The Utah Jazz have always been an important part of our community, and the team is making every effort to be an example for how we can start to safely resume these types of activities,” said Rich Saunders, interim executive director of the Utah Department of Health. “The Jazz are committed to working with public health professionals and to doing everything they can to ensure the health and safety of their fans, players, staff, and arena employees by implementing important safeguards and limiting the number of people who can attend games in-person. We certainly look forward to welcoming the Jazz back.”