United Center First Chicago Stadium To Ask For Proof Of Vaccination Or Negative COVID-19 Test

Posted By Joe Boozell on September 2, 2021

In order to attend Bulls or Blackhawks home games for the upcoming season, fans will either need to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

The news comes as Chicago and Illinois have recently reinstated indoor mask mandates. The new protocol will remain in place “until further notice,” according to a United Center statement.

The statement also claims the United Center has made new investments to increase airflow in the arena.

And, even with the requirement, the United Center will still require masks for fans. The arena will accept COVID-19 rapid PCR or antigen tests.

The lone exception to the mask policy is when fans are actively eating or drinking.

Other prominent indoor venues, such as the Barclays Center in New York and the Chase Center and San Francisco, will also require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

There are not currently uniform NBA or NHL stadium guidelines for the upcoming season. But venues such as the United Center are making their plans known early.

Last season, the Bulls and Blackhawks didn’t host fans until April. And even then, they only did so at 20% capacity.

It doesn’t look like there will be any capacity limits for the upcoming season. The United Center seats about 21,000 people.

United Center COVID policy different than other Chicago stadiums

The United Center is the first major Chicago sporting venue to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. There are no such requirements at Wrigley Field, Guaranteed Rate Field or Soldier Field.

The obvious difference is that the United Center is indoors, while those stadiums are all outdoors. For those fearing capacity limits, it doesn’t appear that there will be any.

Right now, masks aren’t technically permitted at the baseball stadiums — unless you are in an enclosed indoor area, such as a team store.

While the Bulls and Blackhawks have been off since the spring, the United Center has hosted other large events such as concerts and wrestling matches.


Rules at Guaranteed Rate  |  Rules at Wrigley  |  Rules at Soldier Field

What is the COVID-19 situation in Chicago?

Chicago reinstated its indoor mask mandate a few weeks before Illinois. The city is averaging about 460 new cases per day.

That’s slightly down from last week, as are deaths and test positivity rate. However, hospitalizations are up 14% week over week.

For reference, in the middle of June, Chicago was only averaging 67 new cases per day.

Fans will be able to watch the Bulls and Blackhawks in person this year, provided they comply with the stadium requirements. It will be interesting to see how many other indoor venues around the US follow suit.

Photo by Paul Beaty / AP
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Joe Boozell

Joe Boozell has also been a college sports writer for NCAA.com since 2015. His work has also appeared in Bleacher Report, FoxSports.com and NBA.com. Growing up, Boozell squared off against both Anthony Davis and Frank Kaminsky in the Chicagoland basketball scene ... you can imagine how that went.

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