If Gov. Phil Murphy were to scratch all capacity restrictions tomorrow in New Jersey, it could still be months before folks are comfortable with packing an indoor arena or even an outdoor stadium.

Findings of a new Seton Hall Sports Poll suggest there's still plenty of hesitation among Americans to get back to the way things were crowd-wise, but folks are more willing to attend events that have COVID-19 protocols in place as vaccination efforts progress.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they would be comfortable attending a full-capacity outdoor stadium event of any type. Just a third of respondents said they'd be willing to be part of a full-capacity crowd at an indoor event. Willingness to attend fully-packed events is higher among folks who identify as "sports fans" or "avid fans."

In the poll, half of the general population said they would attend an outdoor sporting event that has limited attendance and requires social distancing and personal protection equipment. Forty-two percent of respondents said "yes" to indoor events with these measures in place.

In April 2020, 72% of respondents in a Seton Hall Sports Poll said they would not feel comfortable at a sporting event under pretty much any circumstances. Today, 32% say the same about outdoor events and 38% about indoor events.

"The public may not be ready for full capacity, but the reluctance to attend events with precautions in place has dropped considerably over the course of the year," said Daniel Ladik, poll methodologist and SHU marketing professor. "A 40 point drop is substantial by anyone's measure."

Forty-nine percent of poll respondents said Major League Baseball teams should not allow full-capacity attendance. The Yankees and Mets recently announced that they would have no restrictions at all on people who can prove they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Limits for outdoor and indoor venues remain in place in the Garden State. Capacity restrictions are expected to be eased on May 19, as long as there's no unexpected rise in COVID-19 numbers, but unrelated groups of attendees are still expected to be seated six feet apart.

During a COVID-19 briefing on Monday, Gov. Murphy said there's a good chance that full-capacity crowds will be permitted at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford for the start of the next NFL season in September.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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