Ontario to increase capacity at Scotiabank Arena nearly ten-fold ahead of Leafs pre-season
Published Friday, September 24, 2021 8:02AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 24, 2021 10:24AM EDT
Ontario's chief medical officer will allow up to 30,000 fans into the Rogers Centre for the remaining games in the Toronto Blue Jays’ regular and possible post-season.
The province will increase the allowable capacity for outdoor professional sports venues to 75 per cent of pre-COVID capacity, up to a maximum of 30,000 people, up from the 15,000 allowed inside since baseball resumed in Toronto in July.
For indoor sports venues, the province will increase the maximum capacity to 10,000 people or 50 per cent of pre-COVID capacity, whichever is lower.
This would allow Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena to host up to about 9,900 fans.
The changes will take effect Saturday at 12:01 a.m.
“We’ve done very well in Ontario, we have been stable over the past several weeks, as we move indoors, we have the added benefit that the majority of individuals have been vaccinated,” Dr. Kieran Moore said.
Yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays said they would begin selling additional tickets starting at $15 for the final six games of the regular season, and also dropped the ability of unvaccinated fans to attend if they presented a recent negative test.
They made the announcement as possible post-season play nears, without yet securing government approval for the move, saying they would refund any tickets sold on the promise of excess capacity if the province did not give them the green light.
Moore said the 30,000 seat limit at the Rogers Centre would remain even when the roof is closed.
“Even if the roof the closed, we’ve worked them to understand the ventilation and the air exchange and we’re confident we can keep the roof closed, and continue to consider it an outdoor space,” Moore said.
As it stands today, outdoor sports venues were previously limited to 15,000 spectators in attendance, or 75 per cent of usual, pre-COVID capacity, whichever is less.
Indoor sports venues such as Scotiabank Arena were previously limited to 1,000 fans or 50 per cent of pre-COVID capacity, whichever is less.
Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) said Friday it would also drop the condition that unvaccinated people could attend its venues with proof of a recent negative test.
MLSE spokesperson Nick Eaves said fans will be encouraged to leave time to navigate the proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirement and other COVID measures this season.
“We’re opening gates 90 minutes before puck-drop instead of 60 minutes so we are encouraging fans to come earlier. One of the features of the mobile ticket this season is that your ticket actually directs you to a particular gate and you have to come through that gate. That will allow us to spread out fans a little bit more than we can normally.”
He said seats will be spread out across the lower and upper bowls of the arena, grouped together by household with some space in between.
The relaxed rules also apply to banquet halls, cinemas, conference centres, casinos and other facilities, which are each now allowed up to 50 per cent of pre-COVID capacity or 10,000 people, whichever is less.
“The certification and validation process is a game changer for these businesses,” Moore said.
The province is also extending its proof of vaccination certificate requirement to outdoor events with 20,000 attendees or more.
The Toronto Maple Leafs start their pre-season against Montreal tomorrow.
The Blue Jays host the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on Sept. 28.