FedEx Forum welcomes bigger crowds for Grizzlies post-season game

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 10:09 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Increased capacity for post-season games at FedEx Forum brought up the biggest crowds since the return of fans for Grizzlies games.

The pregame party on the plaza Wednesday looked like the old days.

“It feels wonderful to be out amongst the people to see the Grizzly fans, hear the wonderful music,” said Sheila Whitley, who is returning to her first Grizzlies game since the season abruptly shut down last year.

Memphis Grizzlies announced Monday they were increasing capacity for the post-season to 40 percent.

Alan Bug said he’s looking forward to the bigger crowds again.

“It just makes it so much more exciting, right? The enthusiasm and the cheering. I’m sure it makes the players feel better too,” said Bug.

The increased capacity nearly doubled the crowd size inside FedEx Forum. During the regular season, crowds could not exceed 20 percent capacity.

“It’s a strange sensation when they’re piping in the crowd noise and you can hardly hear any real live cheering,” said Rick Eastman, who has been attending games all year.

Eastman didn’t have to listen to the canned cheering Wednesday night. The increased crowd size was a move seen across the NBA for post season play.

The Atlanta Hawks increased their capacity to 45 percent and the Charlotte Hornets to a whopping 60 percent.

However, the Portland Trailblazers will only allow 10 percent capacity.

Their star player, CJ McCollum, tweeted Monday, “Do we get more fans in the building for the playoffs or nah.”

Maneuvering around COVID-19 with big crowds is still a concern, but fans in Memphis seem to be ok with the plan at FedEx Forum which still requires fans to wear masks, except when eating.

“Initially there was some thoughts , but my family, we’ve been vaccinated, watching our distance. We still wear our masks too,” said Whitley.

The increased crowds attending the game is not just good for the players on the court, but it’s also good for downtown businesses.

Beale Street was busy with fans before the game, spending money in what has been a difficult year financially.

Joe Kelly, who enjoyed some drinks before attending the game said, “Obviously, I work downtown. We want to see downtown back thriving. All the businesses are ready for it to be thriving. We need people down here.”

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