RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In a normal year, around 20,000 fans would fill PNC Arena for playoff hockey.
Right now due to COVID-19, a total of 12,000 fans are allowed inside – which is how many cheered on the Carolina Hurricanes against the Nashville Predators in game one on Monday and game two Wednesday.
“It was incredible,” said Hurricanes president and General Manager Don Waddell. “It was a lot of fun to have people back in the building and everyone enjoying the atmosphere.”
It is the most fans allowed inside since the pandemic shut everything down.
“The one thing we know about our Caniac fans, they’re loud and they like to enjoy themselves,” said Waddell.
Now, the team is working to get even more Caniacs back in seats.
They are renting a 500-ton chiller.
It will bring in more fresh air from outside, make it cold, and create more airflow in the building.
“That’s the No. 1 goal: To keep everybody safe,” said Waddell.
The NHL has its own safety standards for teams.
Along with keeping a mask requirement in place, social distancing, and sanitizing, the chiller will allow the Canes to add another 4,000 or so fans to games.
That will bring it to around 16,000 total.
“Any more fans just adds to the atmosphere,” said Waddell.
They expect to have the equipment installed by the end of the month, which means the Canes need to win more games to feel and hear the benefits of it.
“It’ll be great,” said Waddell. “We’ve got to do our job as a hockey team and make sure we win the first round because this would be for the second round.”
The chiller’s being driven to Raleigh from Indiana and then needs to be installed.
It costs about $200,000 a month to rent and operate.