THE Newcastle Jets plan to kick off a new era with a bang against arch rivals the Mariners at home - and club boss Shane Matiske hopes a packed stadium is on hand to watch.
Tickets for the round-one blockbuster at McDonald Jones Stadium on November 21 are on sale from Friday.
McDonald Jones Stadium has been in lockdown since the Knights thrashed North Queensland 38-0 on July 3, before all NRL teams entered a Queensland hub.
Easing of COVID-19 restrictions has opened the way for the stadium to operate at 75 per cent capacity, which is about 19,000.
In line with NSW Government Health Orders, all attendees, aged 16 and over, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"The F3 derby is one of the biggest matches on the league calendar and we're over the moon that our local fans can enjoy it live in stadium to begin the season," Matiske said. "We can't wait to be back on the pitch again with a revamped men's and women's teams, and in the gold, as together we launch into a new era in the club's history."
A further easing of restrictions on December 1 will mean that McDonald Jones Stadium is back to 100 per cent for the Jets second home match against Wellington on December 10.
Back-to-back seasons interrupted by COVID have put a major dent in Newcastle's home-ground attendances.
Two years ago, the Jets had grown their membership base to around 11,000, but last season their average home crowd dwindled to 4056 per game - the lowest in their history.
Defender Matt Jurman is among 15 fresh faces in a new-look Jets outfit. He has not played in front of fans since leaving Western Sydney Wanderers for Greek club Xanthi at the end of the 2019-20 season.
"I'm excited to get out to the home stadium and have some fans there," Jurman said. "It has been a while for me. There were no fans there when I was playing in Greece. The six months I was there, the country was pretty much in lockdown."
The full A-League draw was released on Friday.
The Jets will play 13 home games, with the clash against Brisbane Roar on February 5 likely to be played in Northern NSW.
The Jets play the Mariners, Western Sydney, Wellington and Macarthur three times. They have two games against the remaining teams.
In a positive, they only have travel to traditional graveyard Perth Glory once.
"Once you start analysing these things and find aspects that aren't ideal, we are just coming up with reasons why we can't be successful," coach Arthur Papas said. "Whatever the draw is , we will be ready."