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Penguins CEO: Pandemic mostly to blame for end of sellout streak

Until Tuesday night, the Penguins had sold out 633 consecutive games at PPG Paints Arena, a 14-year runGETTY IMAGES

The Penguins’ sellout streak of 633 consecutive games came to an end last night with the team’s home contest against the Stars, and Penguins President & CEO David Morehouse said the task of getting fans to return to arenas following the pandemic is "kind of the elephant in the room," according to Seth Rorabaugh of the PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW. With COVID-19 still a "harsh reality," selling tickets to "just about any entertainment venue is a challenge." Morehouse said, "I could do research and come up with a couple of different cross tabs, but the pandemic is what happened to all of us. ... It’s going to take a little while for people to recover from it physically, emotionally, mentally, economically." Morehouse: "The good news is a lot of people -- because we were sold out for 14 years -- they didn’t know that we still had tickets on game day, that we held tickets back. Now, people know that we have tickets to sell. We have mini-plans. We have different games that will be open, and you can actually attend." Morehouse: "If you would have told me 14 years ago, you would do 14 years of sellouts, I would have said, no, I think you’re crazy. But I think our fanbase proved that Pittsburgh is a hockey town" (TRIBLIVE.com, 10/19).

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE? In Pittsburgh, Taylor Haase noted the "majority of the teams in the NHL have policies requiring that fans show proof of full vaccination or a negative test result to attend games." Some teams require that "unvaccinated fans wear masks," and a few teams require "all fans to wear masks, regardless of vaccination status." The Penguins are "one of the teams in the minority, with no such requirements." There are "signs at the entrances at PPG Paints Arena saying that masks are 'recommended,'" and the Penguins ask "unvaccinated fans to wear masks, but there's no enforcement." Morehouse said that the team "surveyed season-ticket holders in the offseason as part of the process of creating a vaccination or mask policy (or lack thereof)," and he does not "think that's the reason for attendance being down." Rather, people just "got used to not attending sports games over the last two seasons." Morehouse said, "It could be. But I just think it's a behavior change. For two years, people haven't been getting out of their house and going to places like this. Now all of a sudden, they're open" (DKPITTSBURGHSPORTS.com, 10/19).

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