The Columbus Blue Jackets became the first NHL team to say Wednesday they would play home games without fans due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The team’s announcement comes after Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he will issue an order banning spectators from games in the state.
The Blue Jackets’ statement says: “Remaining home games while the order is in effect, including tomorrow vs. Pittsburgh, will be played as scheduled, but with restricted attendance in compliance with today’s announcement. Admission to games will be limited to home and visiting club personnel, credentialed media and broadcast partners, essential club and arena staff and NHL officials. The games will be closed to the public.”
The Blue Jackets’ announcement comes after the Golden State Warriors said they would play to an empty arena and the NCAA ruled that all postseason tournaments, including the immensely popular men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, would be played without fans. Tournament games are scheduled for Dayton and Cleveland.
The Blue Jackets have home games remaining against the Predators on Saturday, the Capitals on March 19, Islanders on March 30 and Lightning on April 2. Home games are at a premium down the stretch of the NHL season as teams jockey for playoff positioning. Despite losing a slew of stars in the offseason, Columbus is clinging to the second wild card in the East.