CHICAGO – For a number of venues across the city and around the country, there is a bit of a first that’s being celebrated.
That’s a return of fans to full capacity at venues for sporting events, which has been happening over the past few months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of them in the early spring of 2020.
On Friday night, the Bulls will have their opportunity to welcome back a full capacity of fans for the first time in a regular season game since the pandemic began.
The contest against the Pelicans on Friday is the first without any crowd restrictions since March 10, 2020 when the Bulls defeated the Cavaliers at the United Center. Less than 24 hours later, the season was suspended and the team wouldn’t play again until that December.
Even then, no fans were allowed to watch home games due to COVID-19, with only a few spectators being let in for games in May when a few restrictions were lifted.
Players like Patrick Willliams, who are new to the Bulls prior to the 2019-2020 season, got a taste of those crowds in the preseason. On Friday night, they expect things to be a little different with a near-capacity crowd expected to watch a new-look team.
“Super excited, honestly,” said the second-year forward of playing in front of the fans. “I could kinda see the energy that the fans bring in the preseason, even though I wasn’t playing all the games, I could definitely just feel the crowd, feel the energy.
“But first home game, season opener, so I know it’s going to be rocking in there. I can’t wait to play in front of those crowds, in front of those fans. They’ve been waiting, we’ve been waiting. It’s time.”
Seeing those spectators is something that the Bulls will get used to early in the season as they play four of their next fives games at the United Center. That includes a second contest against the Pistons in four days as they host them on Saturday night.