In a gift almost as valuable as a victory on the diamond, court, rink, or pitch, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker gave professional sports teams the OK Tuesday to more than double their attendance capacity as of May 10.
The opportunity to bump up capacity from 12 percent — a limit that went into effect only late last month — to 25 percent brings the state’s sports teams that much closer to making up hundreds of millions dollars in lost revenue since the COVID-19 pandemic emptied the stands last year.
The Red Sox not only will be able to increase the capacity at Fenway Park from 4,791 to 9,982 for games, they also can start to hope for even more capacity in the summer when the ballpark hosts concerts.
“We are grateful for the consistent communication from Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and their entire team since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy in a statement.
“Today’s announcement allows us to begin accommodating close to 10,000 fans at Fenway Park starting May 10, and to more appropriately plan for games and events during the summer months, including our Fenway Park concert series starting in August.”
The Bruins will be allowed to host 4,565 fans and the Celtics even more at 4,789, by virtue of the hockey rink taking up more seating area than the basketball court. In either case, a doubling of revenue is a big deal.
“We are confident and excited to safely welcome back more fans to TD Garden,” said Amy Latimer, the Garden’s president. “With Massachusetts leading the country in vaccinations and the great work we’ve done to successfully implement our Play It Safe protocols inside the arena, we continue to keep health and safety the top priority.
“Our fans bring TD Garden to life, and the teams will be especially grateful for that energy boost as the playoff push continues.”
“I think it will be twice as good,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “I can’t wait to have them all here. Can’t get back soon enough.
“It’s amazing that when you’re in this building, it still feels louder than most, even with 12 percent capacity. So adding that extra 12½ will be something that we really look forward to. And it obviously gives more people a chance to get out, go to games, resume some version of normalcy for them. And I think that’s all terrific.”
Bruins winger Craig Smith also reacted positively to the news.
“We talk about it all the time, how cool it would be if we could get some more people in the building,” he said. “The fans that have come to the game have been fantastic so far — so fun to play in front of. If we get a couple more jammed in there, it’d be a lot of fun.”
Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes was “super excited” about the capacity increase.
“The place is rockin’ with 5,000 people,” said Barnes. “We have such an advantage at home with our fans because of how great they are and how hard they make it to play there for visiting teams.
“I’m super excited to get to 25 percent. That’s incredible — especially coming from nothing last year, 10,000 is going to feel like a packed stadium. I can’t even imagine when we get to full capacity. Hopefully this year.”
The Celtics will host four more games before more fans are allowed back on May 11 against the Miami Heat.
The Revolution had begun hosting a bit fewer than 8,000 fans at Gillette Stadium but soon will be able to welcome 16,500.
Another big beneficiary of the May 10 timing is the Red Sox’ new Triple A affiliate in Worcester. When the Worcester Red Sox debut at their new Polar Park May 11, they will be able to greet 2,377 fans instead of 1,141.
“We are pleased with this news because it reflects an improvement in the health of our community,” said the WooSox in a statement. “It is a beacon of hope, and we thank everyone who is working together to help eradicate this pandemic.”
Adam Himmelsbach, Matt Porter, and Julian McWilliams of the Globe staff contributed to this report.