The Toronto Raptors are coming home. The Maple Leafs, well, they’re going to come back, only this time, with fans in the building.
Ontario is relaxing capacity limits at some sport and event venues that require proof of vaccination.
The province’s announcement to increase capacity for sporting events and select venues will allow 10,000 fans to play games at Scotiabank Arena for the upcoming NHL and NBA seasons.
Scotiabank’s maximum seating capacity is 19,800, which means the arena will operate at 50% capacity until further notice. Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health made the announcement on Friday, which will also see Rogers Center grows from 15,000 to 30,000 fans as the Toronto Blue Jays enter their final home and playoff game.
Maple Leafs preseason tickets are currently on sale to the general public, provided all potential participants are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
A spokesperson for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment told the Toronto Star this week they were preparing to “safely hold an event at full capacity”.
The Scotiabank Arena hasn’t been crowded since March 10, 2020, when the Maple Leafs hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Maple Leafs’ regular season opener will be on October 13 against Montreal.
It’s a substantial update for the Raptors, who have called Tampa, Florida home for their 2020-21 season.
Due to COVID-19 protocols and Canada’s travel restrictions, the Raptors have been forced to play home games outside of Amalie Arena. They were the only team to have to relocate and deal with a COVID-19 outbreak towards the end of the season.
The Raptors last played at Scotiabank Arena on February 28, 2020. They then left for a five-game road trip before the league closed on March 11 after Utah’s Rudy Gobert tested positive. for COVID-19.
President and Vice President Masai Ujiri has spoken openly about the commitment to bring the team back to play in front of fans in Toronto. August 5, the day his Raptors multi-year contract extension made official, he said leaders were working hard to make this happen.
September 10, the team got government approval to come home for the 2021-22 season. The Raptors begin their preseason against the Philadelphia 76ers on October 4 – their first game at Scotiabank Arena in more than 19 months.
They open the regular season on October 20 when they host Washington.
MLSE announced that people who attend its indoor and outdoor events should be vaccinated as early as September 22.
In a statement, the MLSE said it strongly supports Ontario’s vaccination certificate system and will not accept a negative COVID-19 test result “for admission to MLSE sites or events, except for guests with verified medical exemption â.
Children under 11 will also be exempt from the warrant. Face coverings should continue to be worn at indoor and outdoor events.