The Ottawa 67’s home opener will be the first major sporting event in Ottawa after the Ontario government lifted capacity restrictions at venues where proof of vaccination is required.
The Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team will be able to officially fill the 8,000-seat arena at TD Place for the Sunday afternoon game, although they expect less than half of this number.
The OHL canceled last year’s season as the province battled the third wave of the pandemic, and 67’s fans are thrilled with the team’s return.
“It’s amazing,” said Louis Bouliet, a longtime 67’s fan. “It’s such a fun experience to have big crowds. It’s so nice to have a group of people cheering you on.”
Bouliet said making sure spectators are both vaccinated and masked makes him feel “fairly safe” at the event.
But Dr. Robert Cushman, acting Renfrew County medical officer of health, urged people to continue to be careful, despite the new rules.
He said the relatively low number of cases and high vaccination rate in Ontario could help explain why the government chose to lift the restrictions, especially as some of the targeted industries were hit hardest during the pandemic. .
“You can see where this is coming from,” he said. “But like everyone else, I’m not sure I can see where this is going. So I was frankly a little surprised, although I understand the reasoning behind [the decision]. “
” Everyone on the bridge “
Seat sales are the main source of revenue for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG), which owns the Ottawa 67’s and Redblacks.
The group cut 40% of its staff at TD Place in September 2020, citing lower revenues due to the pandemic.
OSEG President and CEO Mark Goudie said the group has since hired around 30 employees, about half of whom previously worked with the organization.
But with the capacity restrictions lifted, OSEG’s current challenge is hiring match day staff.
The Redblacks normally operate with around 800 part-time employees every game, but Goudie said OSEG is currently tapping into a pool half that size.
“What this means for vaccine verification is that our office staff – me, my people, their families, their friends – are checking passports or vaccine certificates at games right now.” , did he declare. “It’s all hands on the deck.”
67 is not alone
The Ottawa Senators announced an 18,562-seat crowd on Thursday for their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Redblacks will now be allowed to sell tickets up to the stadium’s 24,000-seat capacity. .
Bouliet bought tickets for the 67’s game on Sunday and said he hopes to be joined by a full house. But Goudie pointed out that there was still a lot of uncertainty around the sale of group tickets, which are often bought by schools or businesses.
“It’s always confusing in terms of what organizations can and cannot do,” he said. “I expect to see something in the order of 3,000 people at the 67’s game.”