Echoing the Warriors' front office, Golden State coach Steve Kerr said Monday the organization is "hopeful" some fans can attend games at Chase Center by the end of the season.
Kerr told reporters in his video conference ahead of the Warriors' home game against the Los Angeles Lakers that he's "abreast of," but not involved in, the ongoing discussions between the franchise and public health officials as the outlook of the coronavirus pandemic improves. The 55-year-old said playing in front of some limited-capacity crowds has been energizing for players and coaches.
"What I've noticed, even if it's 2,500 fans, the energy is entirely different," Kerr said. "We played the [New York] Knicks in the first game that fans were allowed in [Madison Square] Garden, probably three, four weeks ago, and it was awesome. Those 2,500 fans were so excited to be at a game. They made their presence felt. The Knicks are obviously having a really good season, so there was an energy in that building that was really fun to feel.
"I think this season has been a good reminder to all of us just how important fans are to the atmosphere, to the energy, and I think the games are more competitive and fun to play when fans are in the stands."
Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state would allow limited attendance at outdoor sporting events, depending upon which re-opening tier a county is in. Dee Dee Myers, the director of the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, said on the day of the announcement that rules for indoor events are "much more difficult" to determine, adding she hoped to offer an update "within the next couple of weeks."
The state and city of San Francisco expanded vaccine eligibility to people aged 16 to 64 with certain health conditions and disabilities. Twenty-one percent of the state has had at least one dose of the vaccine, according to the California Department of Public Health. San Francisco has administered nearly 340,000 doses of the vaccine.
President Joe Biden said last week in a nationwide address that all American adults would be eligible for vaccination beginning May 1. The Warriors begin a season-ending six-game homestand starting May 6.
San Francisco's Department of Public Health rejected the Warriors' November proposal to have 9,000 fans -- 50 percent of Chase Center's capacity -- in attendance this season. That was prior to the widespread distribution of multiple vaccines, which public health experts and officials have said is a necessity before hosting indoor sporting events at full capacity.
Of the six Bay Area counties that issued a first-of-its-kind stay-at-home order a year ago Tuesday, all but Contra Costa County (purple) are in California's red tier, indicating there is still "substantial" spread of COVID-19.