Despite last night’s Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers game taking place without fans in the Bell Centre, the Toronto Rock and Philadelphia Wings game will allow half capacity to fans.
Rising concerns regarding the latest variant of COVID-19 have changed the way fans attend sporting events. In Philadelphia, there is a vaccination requirement. In Montreal, the Canadiens played in an empty arena reminiscent of “bubble hockey.” Tomorrow, the Rock allows half-capacity, with the availability of distanced seating areas.
Many leagues have postponed games. The Flyers already need to make up a home game versus the New York Islanders. The Islanders had many players in COVID protocol, forcing a postponement. Last year, the NLL paused all operations due to the pandemic. Sports are being affected by the pandemic, but the leagues are finding ways to keep the product alive while enforcing safety and health protocols regarding COVID-19.
Attendance will likely drop due to regulations surrounding vaccination proof in some markets. Local governments in these markets provide these rules to mitigate the spreading of COVID-19 and its variants while attending large group gatherings.
Last year, the NLL expanded, as did the NHL. Of course, there is logical evidence that the leagues don’t want to lose revenue, and there’s a rational outcry that all fans cannot attend games. These unfavorable circumstances regarding potential drop-offs in market-to-market attendance still create hurdles for these two leagues, and it’s a direct result of accounting for the best interest of everyone.
Many franchises are offering the option to change single-game ticket holders over to a game later in the season if there is a postponement for cancellation. Some franchises are splitting season-ticket holders into two groups, alternating which games they can go to if there is a capacity limit. Last night was a stark reminder of how close sports are to reverting to empty arenas due to the pandemic. The easiest way to continue enjoying your favorite teams is to become vaccinated and bring your card as proof (if there is a vaccination requirement) or wear a mask.
Next, the Flyers host the Ottawa Senators tomorrow at the Wells Fargo Center, requiring proof of vaccination for attendance. The Wings travel to Toronto tomorrow at the FirstOntario Centre, where there is a half capacity attendance limit and a mask requirement. Stay safe, bang the boards, and bring it to Broad.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre