The South Carolina Stingrays have announced the schedule for the first 10 games of their hockey season, including a Dec. 11 home opener against Greenville at the North Charleston Coliseum.
Attendance will be limited to about 2,700 fans due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least for games early in the 72-game ECHL season.
“Over the last six months our team has worked in conjunction with the ECHL and its other members on a plan to safely return to play for the 2020-21 season,” said Stingrays president Rob Concannon. “The safety of our fans and players is our top priority. We are thrilled and committed to playing hockey starting at home on Dec. 11
“It will be a little different than past seasons and we still have work to do, but we are really looking forward to starting our 28th season of hockey in the Lowcountry. Our staff, players, fans, and corporate partners are very excited, and we can’t wait to see everyone."
Concannon said the club will release more information about seating and social-distancing guidelines in the coming weeks.
"Like many other small businesses in our community, we have worked hard to design a safe return for our business of professional sports,” said Stingrays principal owner Todd Halloran. “We could not launch our new season without the dedication and cooperation of the front office, our league officials, other ECHL teams, the North Charleston Coliseum, our fans, and state and county officials. We are pleased to do our part in bringing back in-person sports entertainment to Charleston County in a safe and responsible way."
The North Charleston Coliseum is using a corporate program called "VenueShield" for hygiene protocols, said general manager Frank Laspley.
“The Coliseum staff has worked tirelessly since COVID's inception to remain fully up to date about care and prevention," he said. "Best practices are being developed and improved on a daily basis. Utilizing our corporate VenueShield program, we have prepared a comprehensive program of environmental hygiene protocols in response to evolving guest, staff and partner expectations, stemming from the pandemic.
"VenueShield is an all-inclusive and best-in-class program that has been developed with input from the world's leading health agencies, venue management professionals and content providers. The program has been tailored to meet the state of South Carolina's strict SCDHEC & CDC guidelines that have allowed us to obtain the Governor’s exception that will allow events to return to the facilities."
The Stingrays will host a “Red Out” on opening night, presented by BELFOR Property Restoration, and are encouraging all fans to wear red as the team dons its new red jersey for the first time. The jersey, announced in August, has a similar design to what the Washington Capitals wear, aligning the Rays with their NHL affiliate.
Fans in attendance will receive red rally towels upon entry to the building. In addition, the team will be honoring all frontline workers at the home opener.
More information, including the rest of the team’s 72-game schedule and promotions, will be announced soon as the club prepares for the 2020-21 season.