The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Brooklyn Nets Thursday night in front of a full-capacity, sell-out crowd at Fiserv Forum — a scene that was almost hard to believe considering the season began in an empty arena as national and local COVID-19 case rates surged.
Winning Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinal series was crucial for this Bucks team, who lost the first two games in New York. The series continues Sunday at 2 p.m. at Fiserv Forum.
Attendance totaled 16,310 at Thursday night’s game, which was the first time since May 2019 that the Bucks hosted fans at full capacity. Due to the change in courtside configuration put in place during the playoffs, full capacity at the 17,500-seat arena is technically 16,500.
Directly outside the arena, an estimated 3,000 additional fans gathered at the Deer District’s public plaza and Beer Garden to watch the game on giant LED screens. Patrons packed the three establishments currently open along the entertainment block: Good City Brewing, The Mecca Sports Bar and Grill, and Drink Wisconsinbly.
Last month, the team announced it would remove capacity and seating restrictions inside the arena, as well as outdoors on the public plaza. Fiserv Forum’s COVID-19 safety protocols, which were pre-approved by the City of Milwaukee, had been in place since mid-February, when fans were invited back initially at 10% capacity.
Both inside the arena and throughout the Deer District, fans are still required to wear a mask except when actively eating or drinking. However, many in Thursday night’s crowd adhered loosely to the rule, or disregarded it all together. Aside from signage throughout the building, masking was not strictly enforced.
Counter service has returned at concession stands throughout the arena — and so have the long lines, especially for Jack Daniel’s mixed beverages and Chick-fil-A. Mobile ordering is still available through the Bucks’ app and Clover self-serve kiosks.