SAN FRANCISCO - There was a large turnout at Chase Center in San Francisco Wednesday night for the Warriors first preseason home game.
Fans saw a number of changes as the team adapted to changing COVID mandates.
It was not a sold out crowd, but it was pretty close.
Team officials said nearly 17,000 people attended the game.
Fans said they feel safer being among people who have to show proof of vaccination.
The fanfare of a Warriors game was back.
Chase Center can now be filled to capacity for the first time since the pandemic.
Last season, it was allowed only up to 50 percent capacity.
"We didn't know about the virus so we didn't come last year, but very excited this year," said Kevin Fletcher, a fan from Sunnyvale.
Every person entering Chase Center must provide proof of full vaccination.
Fans ages 11 and under must show proof of a negative Covid test.
"I think it's a good idea because I feel safer," said Deborah Sykes, a fan from Antioch.
"It's obviously a pain, but I think it's the right thing to do at this point in time , until the hospitals aren't getting overwhelmed," said Warriors fan Ezra Crooks who's visiting from Spokane Washington.
Moving forward, team officials are urging fans to download "Clear," a free app on their cell phones to speed up the lines to get inside Chase.
"We want the entry process to be as seamless as possible, as quick as possible. We don't want people getting stuck at the door with vaccination verification," said Yoyo Chan, Warriors vice president of government and community relations. .
Masks are still required, but there's a change.
Fans are now allowed to eat and drink inside the arena.
That's the only time the mask can come off.
"I was surprised. But we'll definitely be very cautious still. We'll have our mask . We'll eat our food, take bites. Put our mask on. Enjoy the crowd," said Laura Fletcher, a fan from Sunnyvale.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he'll enjoy having fans fill the arena once again, "I'm just really excited for the year. We've got a really good group. We got a good mix of veterans and young players."
Fans said preseason does matter, that it's a preview of the team's future.
"We're so used to Steph, Klay and Draymond. "But I want to see the new guys, what the farm system is going to be like," said Ryan Gee, a fan from San Francisco.
"I don't care if it's preseason, regular season, playoffs or championship. I'm going to be here. If I'm not here, I would be yelling at my tv, said Samuel Sykes, a Warriors fan from Antioch.
The next preseason game will be at Chase Center Friday night.
The regular season home opener is scheduled for Oct. 21.
The Warriors will play the Los Angeles Clippers.