American Airlines Center welcomes fans for first time since COVID-19 outbreak began

The American Airlines Center hosted fans for the first time since March on Tuesday night.

The Dallas Stars hosted a watch party for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The team plans to host one for each of the remaining games.

The arena, which can hold up to 18,500 when the Stars are playing, was capped at 20 percent capacity for social distancing purposes due to COVID-19. In a normal year there would have been a sellout crowd, but the pandemic has the NHL playing in a “bubble” location in Edmonton, Alberta.

There are several safety protocols in place for fans who requested and received the free tickets to the event.

Masks are mandatory while watching in the seating bowl. The seating is a pod system, with every other row is blocked off. But fans in small groups or couples are allowed to sit together.

Concessions are cashless and just like most retailers and restaurants, there are also plastic barriers between customers and workers.

“I’ve never been to a playoff hockey game so this is as close as I can get with it being free and you can’t pass that up so we are excited for it,” said Chris Symank.

Sanitizing stations and social distancing signs are all over the arena.

“I feel like this is going to be the new normal, like If we want to go places we will have to put the mask on,” said Priscilla Palomo.

Stars and AAC officials said all of the tickets have already been snapped up for the Game 3 and Game 4 watch parties.