Dallas Mavericks invite 1,500 essential workers to first game with fans in nearly a year
The Mavericks have had no fans at a game since the 2020 season was suspended in March.
DALLAS – The last time the Dallas Mavericks had fans at the American Airlines Center for a game, a total of 18 COID-19 cases were reported in Texas.
For the first time in nearly a year, the Mavs invited frontline staff from the healthcare and food sectors and first responders, including the police and fire departments, to a game.
“I’m super excited. I love watching the Mavs, ”said Jeannie Cook, a nurse attending the game. “I work with COVID patients so I’m used to it. I feel safe.”
“I miss it. I miss participating in any kind of live sports game,” said Diego Contreras, an ITS teacher from Dallas. “I’m just so excited to be back.”
The 1,500 key workers invited to the Mavericks v Minnesota Timberwolves game were all invited for free. The team will bring back 1,500 again on Wednesday. The Mavs did not participate in the Friday and Saturday games, which will also be limited to frontline workers who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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“I think it’s a really great gesture that you thank everyone,” said Christie Munoz, a nurse who was there on Monday.
Many of the distributed seats were still open at the time of the notice.
“It’s hard to believe that it has been almost eleven months since the break and so much has happened,” said Rick Carlisle, Mavericks head coach.
Carlisle said even with just a handful of fans, it was a step towards normalcy.
“It is great to honor these people who have been brave and have done such important work on the front lines for so many months,” he said.
“We owe so much to people who put their lives at risk to keep us safer,” Mark Cuban, owner of Mavs, said in a statement. “Getting you to a Mavs game is the least we can do!”
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“The Mavs and Mavs Foundation made a commitment last year to support our important employees through PPE and donated meals. This is just another way to thank us for serving us day in and day out. Hopefully this is a much-needed break from very hectic and turbulent schedules, “said Cynthia Marshall, CEO of Dallas Mavericks, in a statement.
The Dallas Stars, who share the American Airlines Center, have allowed 5,000 fans to play this season. According to ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys had an average of more than 28,000 fans at games this season. Globe Life Field has been opened to fans of the MLB playoffs and the World Series.
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Fans participating in the Mavericks game were required to complete a health survey and wear masks inside.
Meenakshi Ramanathan is an infectious disease pharmacist at UNTHSC, and says vaccines are part of a combined approach to stop the spread along with masks and distancing.
“There is a big difference between getting one dose and two doses,” she said.
While the current vaccines stop symptoms, she says it isn’t a ticket to do anything.
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“They are still trying to see if this component actually reduces person-to-person transmission,” Ramanathan said.
The year without fans was especially long for those at the front.
“Feels like forever,” said Cook. “We were just talking on the way here. We weren’t really allowed to go to Christmas parties anywhere. “
Monday was a foretaste of how normal now looks and sounds.