The Galaxy and LAFC moved a big step closer to welcoming a limited number of fans back into their stadiums for the start of the MLS season next month under new guidelines unveiled by state officials Friday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said visitors will be able to return to theme parks and outdoor sports venues beginning April 1, limited to a percentage of capacity tied to coronavirus cases per county. The MLS season kicks off April 17, though neither the Galaxy nor LAFC have announced the dates of their first home games, pending release of the league schedule.
In the red tier attendance at stadiums will be limited to 20% of capacity, rising to 33% in the orange tier and 67% in the yellow tier. Spectators will be required to wear masks and observe other health precautions.
In the red and orange tiers, only in-state residents will be allowed inside the venues. There are no such restrictions in the yellow tier.
The Galaxy, based in Carson, and LAFC, which plays in Exposition Park, are both in Los Angeles County, in the heavily restricted purple tier, indicating the virus remains widespread. Under purple-tier guidelines attendance will be limited to 100 fans from within the region and concessions may not be sold.
But as virus rates fall, those restrictions will ease. If L.A. County rises to the red tier, the Galaxy will be able to allow approximately 5,400 supporters inside Dignity Health Sports Park, about 1,000 more than LAFC can host at Banc of California Stadium.
Galaxy president Chris Klein and Katie Pandolfo, general manager at Dignity Health Sports Park, issued a statement saying they welcomed the Department of Health’s revised guidelines and will give season-ticket holders priority for attending matches.
In a statement, LAFC said it also will soon announce safety protocols for Banc of California Stadium as well as ticket policy.
The Galaxy played just once before their home supporters last year, and LAFC played two MLS matches and a CONCAFAF Champions League game at home before COVID-19 put the season on pause on March 12. Both teams played in empty stadiums when the season resumed in home markets in August.
Live crowds are vital to MLS, which relies on game-day sales and sponsorships for the vast majority of its revenue. Commissioner Don Garber estimated the coronavirus cost the league as much as $1 billion last year.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.