ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Professional sports will be firing up for the first time in Albany since the state implemented new mask-or-vaccination rules. Albany’s largest downtown arena isn’t taking any chances.

After nearly 20 years, professional lacrosse is making its return to Albany with the FireWolves’ home opener on Saturday, December 18 at 7 p.m. There are some new restrictions guests will have to follow.

The FireWolves lacrosse team has been practicing hard. They are ready to hit the home turf at the former Times Union Center soon-to-be MVP Arena.

“We’re finally home, and we get to showcase our product here in our own building,” said George Manias.

The new state mandate requires masks to be worn indoors at all times unless there is a vaccination policy put in place.

While at the FireWolves game, the former TU Center wants all patrons to wear a mask as well as show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.

FireWolves President George Manias says it’s business as usual for the team. 

“The players are constantly being tested when they arrive and when they depart. They are probably some of the safest guys out there because they are constantly getting checked upon,” he said.

“It’s going to be a little bit different until January 15, and then Governor Kathy Hochul will make her decision then after,” said Bob Belber. 

Times Union Center General Manager Bob Belber says they will be enforcing the mandate no matter what. 

“We got paddles that have images of masks on them. Our staff will go up to someone and have the paddle out and they will ask them to put their mask back on,” said Belber.

Not wearing a mask will get you kicked out of the arena. Belber says safety is key to having a good time.

“You may not see the person smiling but you certainly will know that they are enjoying it just by the loud screams and cheering they are going to be doing,” said Belber.