Friday brought good tidings for Ontario sports teams and fans alike as Minister Lisa Macleod announced that the province's major indoor sports teams will get to host full-capacity crowds when their seasons start this month.
With indoor capacity limits now lifted at their home arenas, this means the Toronto Raptors, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Maple Leafs will all be playing in front of full arenas later this month.
The announcement by the Sports Minister was obviously welcomed by all. After working together in close unison with the province over many months, it's an absolute thrill to finally anticipate the day for welcoming a full venue for cheering on the Raptors and Maple Leafs, said Michael Friisdahl, chief executive and president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in a statement on the weekend. It's an exciting time for teams and fans alike, said Friisdahl.
Safety Will Remain Top Priority
The first season opener set to enjoy the full capacity allowance will be the Maple Leafs during their start of season against the Montreal Canadiens at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday. Theirs will be followed by the Toronto Raptors starting off their season against the Washington Wizards on Oct. 20, and the Ottawa Senators hosting Toronto on the Thursday after.
Senators owner Eugene Melnyk on Friday thanked government and Premier Doug Ford for helping the province reach the point of a proper reopening. He said the health and safety of players, fans, and the community would remain a top priority and that caution would remain at the order of the day for ensuring everybody's collective well-being.
While capacity limits have been lifted, fans will still be required to provide proof of vaccination for attending any events in the province.
Canucks Hoping For A Miracle
Friday's announcement means the Vancouver Canucks is now the only team left remaining without the luxury of full capacity limits. This is because British Columbia still limits crowds at indoor arena's to only 50% capacity.
Even so, the Canucks were ecstatic to welcome 9,000+ fans into Rogers Arena when they hosted the Winnipeg Jets for their pre-season teaser on October 3rd. And considering they last welcomed fans inside their home stadium on March 10, 2020, their joy was comprehensible.
Fans bring life not only to the arena, but also to the team, said Canucks captain Bo Horvat following Sunday's game. With their regular season home opening game scheduled for October 26, the Canucks say they're hoping feverishly that they'll be permitted to host a full crowd for opening night yet.