May 11—It has been more than 14 years since the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't sell every ticket available for a game. To keep their sellout streak of more than 600 games alive, they will have a few extra tickets to sell beginning next week.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the state is easing crowd restrictions for events, effective Monday. Indoor venues — such as PPG Paints Arena, home of the Penguins — will be allowed up to 50% capacity, an increase from 25% under current coronavirus-related restrictions.
The Penguins announced they will adjust to the new measure and will welcome more than 9,000 spectators to games played after Monday.
"This is very exciting news for our region and our fans," Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a statement released by the team.
The timing of the implementation of the modified restrictions potentially means games played only a day or two apart between the same teams in the same building would have different crowd sizes.
The Penguins will host Games 1-2 of a first-round playoff series against the New York Islanders. The NHL has yet to announce a schedule because its regular season is not yet complete. The postseason will begin Saturday with, at least, a Game 1 between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.
It's possible — perhaps likely — the Penguins will play Game 1 on Saturday or Sunday, with Game 2 then being Monday or Tuesday. That would leave Game 1 to be played in front of fewer than 5,000 fans, and Game 2 would have more than 9,000.
All part of the quirky circumstances of the past 14 months resulting from the covid-19 pandemic. The Penguins are happy to welcome in as many fans as they can.
"It's huge," coach Mike Sullivan said. "They bring energy. They help us create the electric environment that our players love to play in. And so I know how appreciative we all are of our fan support here. This is such a passionate fanbase. They certainly love the Penguins. they love all their major sports teams, for that matter. The Penguins are no different in that regard, and so any time we can put more fans in the building, we think that helps create the environment and the energy our fans can feed off of."
Before the pandemic hit last year, Penguins crowds were always announced around 18,600. The official listed capacity on the venue website is 18,387.
Under the 25% limit, the Penguins have announced attendance as 4,672, up from the 2,800 they listed for games played when the state mandate limited capacity to 15%. The state limits include all personnel who work at the arena.
Wolf previously announced all mitigation restrictions for crowd sizes would be lifted May 31.
Again, that raises the possibility that — should the Penguins advance to the second round — different games in that series have different "sellout" crowd sizes.
"We are looking forward to the day," Sullivan said, "when we can put full capacity in the building, quite honestly."
The Penguins last month petitioned state government to allow for vaccinated and unvaccinated sections at PPG Paints Arena, presumably to allow for more fans. The state never publicly provided an answer to that request, and the issue becomes moot May 31.
The Penguins' sellout streak began Feb. 14, 2007. It sits at 627 consecutive games, counting the regular season and playoffs.
The seven-day average of new cases of covid-19 in Pennsylvania are at their lowest levels since October.
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Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .