The Metro Public Health Department has given the Nashville Predators the greenlight for 15 percent attendance capacity for its January home games, according to a report from The Athletic’s Adam Vingan.
Bridgestone Arena, which has a maximum capacity of 17,113 for hockey games, will be capped at about 2,566 fans due to COVID-19 restrictions. Per Vingan, the franchise is expected to allow a smaller number of fans initially and work its way up to the 15 percent limit as the month progresses.
Nashville’s COVID-19 numbers have been on the rise with 67,281 confirmed cases in Davidson County as of Tuesday — an increase of 365 from the mark of the previous day — with 6,867 active cases.
Initially, NHL officials said games would be played “in the home arenas of participating teams while understanding that most arenas will not, at least in the initial part of the season, be able to host fans.” But the officials later stated the league would leave attendance up to the discretion of local governments and health professionals.
“While we are well aware of the challenges ahead, as was the case last spring and summer, we are continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our participants and the communities in which we live and play,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement last week.
The Predators have six home games in January: two-game homestands against the Columbus Blue Jackets (Jan. 14, 16), Carolina Hurricanes (Jan. 18, 19) and Chicago Blackhawks (Jan. 26, 27).
The NHL announced a week ago that it would return to the ice in January with training camp beginning on Jan. 3 and a 56-game regular season starting on Jan. 13 and running through May 8. No preseason games will be played.
Nashville will play in the realigned Central Division along with the Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Predators will play all games within their new division to limit travel — as will be the case for all NHL teams — facing each Central Division team eight times. With the new arrangement, Nashville won’t play long-standing division rivals Winnipeg, Colorado, Minnesota and St. Louis.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_