After a difficult year and a half for the LAFC community and all Angelinos, the signs of recovery and positive developments in combating the COVID-19 pandemic are increasing almost daily. Last week, the state recorded its lowest hospitalization rate since the first weeks of the outbreak. According to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County could potentially reach a state of herd immunity by the end of July. As these developments continue to progress, LAFC and Banc of California Stadium are determined to do everything possible to produce a safe and efficient path to normalcy to once again stand shoulder to shoulder together as a community.
There are few statements used more by LAFC than shoulder to shoulder. In what was initially intended as an early rally cry to unite supporters and a reference to building the Club together though community and city partners, the phrase has certainly taken on a life of its own. There is everything from a Shoulder 2 Shoulder fan podcast, to the slogan being immortalized on the neckline of the Club’s inaugural kit in 2018 and it still remains there today on the newest iteration of the Black & Gold’s kit.
Now, the phrase holds deeper meaning as LAFC looks towards its next home matches on May 22nd and May 29th, respectively, where, in an effort to get as many possible allowable fans into Banc of California Stadium, the Club will be debuting fully vaccinated-only zones.
“We surveyed our fans, coupled with the opportunity to really open Banc of California Stadium up to its fullest allowable capacity under California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, and really what we’ve taken from this all is just a sheer desire to get back to the Stadium with the rest of the Black and Gold community,” said Benny Tran, LAFC’s EVP, Corporate Strategy and Operations.
The Stadium will be over 50 percent dedicated to vaccinated-only zones, where fans can cheer shoulder to shoulder and not require social distancing in the stands or in the concourses. Per public health guidelines, masks will still be required within these zones, but it is still a major step towards pre-pandemic life. What having these zones also achieves is that overall available capacity at Banc of California Stadium will almost reach the 67 percent allowable capacity at this time under the County’s Yellow Tier status.
The vaccinated-only zones will be within the East Side and the Sound End of the stadium, while vaccinated sections that exist within non-vaccinated zones will be within the supporters’ section in the North End, Suites, and the Directors Box. Each of these zones and sections will also have specific dedicated entrances so fans can enter where appropriate.
“We have been observing recent major local events including the Vax Live concert recently hosted at SoFi Stadium [that featured a vaccinated-only crowd], what the LA Dodgers have done with their vaccinated-only sections as well as other examples of other initiatives across the country as a model, but we’ve worked closely with LA County Public health to come up with a unique process we hope will help set precedents for other venues to follow.” added Tran.
To secure a seat in the vaccinated-only zones, fans 16 and older will be required to provide documentation showing that at least two weeks have passed since a final vaccination dose. Children from 2 to 15 years of age will be required to show proof they have tested negative for COVID-19 from a PCR test taken not more than three days before the match or an antigen test taken not more than one day before the match. The two-week vaccination cutoff for the May 22 game is May 8, and for the May 29 match is May 15.
Fans sitting in vaccinated-only zones are required to show vaccine verification, including any photo identification and proof of vaccination through an official vaccination card, digital record of an official vaccination card, or other documentation from a healthcare provider.
For the most efficient entry into the Stadium, LAFC has partnered with Total Testing Solutions for vaccine verification ahead of time with pre-registering the photo ID and digital file of the record on their HIPAA compliant platform. Additionally, the issuance of digital NFC passes, with partner LAVA, will provide fast, contactless game-day access, which are barcode-less and available in members’ Apple and Google wallets. Using the ticket holder’s mobile number, LAVA’s Realtime Membership platform ties pre-registered fans to real-time access verification using contactless handheld readers at the gates
For more details on the vaccine verification process, fans can visit https://www.lafc.com/stadium/safety.
Non-vaccinated fans will still have access and the option of sitting in socially distanced sections separated from the vaccinated-only zones.
Another day, another step towards shoulder to shoulder, together once again.