By John Trump
Carolina Journal News Service
RALEIGH — The Carolina Hurricanes are making more first-round playoff tickets available, now that Gov. Roy Cooper has relaxed more of his COVID-19 restrictions throughout the state.
The National Hockey League team opens its playoff run Monday night in Raleigh. As champion of the Central Division, Carolina will hold home-ice advantage for its series with the Nashville Predators. If the Hurricanes win that series, they would maintain home-ice advantage for the second round of playoff action.
PNC Arena can hold more than 18,000 fans for a hockey game. The Hurricanes have been limited to no more than 5,000 fans since reopening their doors in March. The News & Observer has reported that NHL requirements could continue to limit seating to 12,000, even with the governor’s announcement.
The Hurricanes organization announced the additional ticket availability with an email headlined: “BREAKING NEWS – Governor Cooper Allows Increased Capacity!”
“Today, Gov. Cooper announced that PNC Arena has been approved to increase seating capacity effective immediately, just in time for Round 1 of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs,” according to the announcement. “Moving forward, social distance between seating pods will no longer be required. Additionally, per current NHL guidelines, face masks will still be required for all fans.”
The email explained how additional tickets will be made available.
“In an effort to efficiently fill ‘The Loudest House in the NHL,’ Season Ticket Members who have not yet received tickets will have first priority at the additional availability,” according to the email. “In the event that there are tickets still available, general public tickets will go on sale Sunday, May 16th, at noon.”
“The Carolina Hurricanes and their players thank you in advance for your understanding as we navigate the ever-changing capacity challenges, and our attempt to regain home-ice advantage!”
The Hurricanes and Predators face a best-of-seven series, with games one and two scheduled Monday and Wednesday in Raleigh. The teams will play Friday, May 21, and Sunday, May 23, in Nashville. If the series lasts more than four games, game five (May 25) and game seven (May 29) would be played in Raleigh.
Carolina made its announcement shortly after Cooper issued his latest update on statewide COVID-19 restrictions. The governor lifted his mask mandate in most settings and ended limits on the number of people attending indoor and outdoor events.
Masks will continue to be mandated for public transportation, child care centers, schools, camps, prisons, nursing homes, and other health care settings.