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COVID-19 restrictions announced for Steel games

NEW ULM — With New Ulm Steel hockey players scheduled to report to New Ulm on September 21 as the Steel prepare for their first home series of the season. They are scheduled to play Friday, October 2 against Willmar and then Saturday, October 3 versus Alexandria with 7:10 p.m. puck drops.

But there wil be some changes for fans attending home games this season due to COVID-19.

First of all and probably the most significant is the number of fans allowed to attend Steel games at the New Ulm Civic Center.

Last year, the Steel averaged over 500 fans per game.

This season, restrictions will limit that to 250 fans or half of last year unless restrictions from local and state government change.

The 250 total does include both rinks so the City of New Ulm has said that they will not schedule any events where spectator numbers count against the admission number. The 250 number limit will be the same for all high school and youth hockey games.

Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult at all times and they will not be allowed to any Steel games without a paid adult admission.

“Some parents who attend Steel games allow their children to run and play unsupervised in the common area of the arena. This will not be allowed this year,” Assistant General Manager Eric Gramentz said. “Parents will have to have their children with them at all times. Children will also not be allowed to stand by the tunnel and give the players high-fives. Fans must also leave the Civic Center immediately after the conclusion of games and they cannot gather in the lobby after games.

“This means that there is the potential for fans to not be admitted to the New Um Civic Center to watch our games once we reach 250 paid fans,” Steel General Manager Bryant Black said.

And all fans in attendance will be required to wear a face mask/covering while in the Civic Center.

The only time a mask can be removed is to ear or drink and if fans are unable to wear a face mask/covering they are asked not to attend games.

Fans are also asked not to attend games if they are not feeling well or are sick.

Also fans will be limited to six family members in one group and non-family members will not be allowed be allowed to congregate in groups. Social distancing will be required. Seating will be blocked off.

“We are committed to having a safe place to for our fans to enjoy the game and we asked that our fans and the community work with us this season,” Steel owner Steve Black said.

There will also be announcements throughout the each game to social distance and team volunteers will be enforcing that.

“There will be no intermission activities as there has been in the past and there will be few game day sponsor giveaway nights,” Gramentz said. “But we are still hoping to hold our Special Olympics Silent Auction Night fundraiser.”

Steel coach Zach Stepan said that players reporting can only do so after being tested negative for COVID-19.

“Upon arrival they will be quarantined before joining their host families,” Stepan said. ”The players will also be checked daily for signs of COVID and a daily wellness report is required to be submitted to the league from each team.

There is also no presale of tickets and any tickets received from sponsors are non-refundable in the event capacity has been reached for that game.

The Steel will also play only West Division games this season with the exception of the NA3HL Showcase in Blaine.

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