Newcastle CEO Phil Gardner has confidently predicted a crowd of in excess of 20,000 for the Knights' season-opener against the Bulldogs at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 12.
And if the club's hopes of a further relaxation of COVID restrictions are realised over the next week, Adam O'Brien's team could have as many as 24,000 fans spurring the home-side on when they open their 2021 NRL campaign.
At present under the current regulations, the stadium is only allowed to hold 75 percent of its fixed seating capacity. That translates to a figure of 19,185.
But Gardner says he is quietly optimistic the allowed capacity may increase as the game gets closer.
"We are hopeful it may be back to close to 100 percent by next week," he told the Newcastle Herald. "That would certainly be a great result for us and our fans. There are some conversations taking place around all of that so we'll have to wait and see what happens.
"We'd like to see the hills back in play with social distancing. The challenge is the corporate areas and the one to two square metre rule inside those areas. We may be able to have people seated outside their boxes and only a limited number inside at any one time. We obviously want as many fans there as is legally allowed and if there are no more issues with the virus by March 12, fingers crossed, the wish is obviously for 100 percent."
If membership and ticket sales are a guide, a crowd of close to 24,000 is a possibility with relaxed restrictions.
After a season largely without crowds thanks to COVID, the club is on track to set a new membership benchmark this year while the indicators from tickets sold more than a week out from the game point to a bumper turnout.
"We have a lot of fans that haven't been able to see the team live for a long time," Knights chief commercial officer Ross Smart said. "Everything is pointing to a big crowd."
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