MLSE plans for return to full capacity at Scotiabank Arena for upcoming Maple Leafs season
Fresh surfaced ice at Scotiabank Arena, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is shown in Toronto on March 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joshua Clipperton
TORONTO -- Toronto could soon see Scotiabank Arena packed with hockey fans as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) prepares to run at full capacity for the upcoming season, a spokesperson confirmed to CTV News on Friday.
In a statement, MLSE said now that all guests must be fully vaccinated to attend all MLSE venues, the organization hopes for a “return to full capacity.”
“We believe we are able to create the safest experience possible and are planning for a return to full capacity in 2021,” the statement read.
“Our ticketing rollout allows for flexibility in the coming weeks to meet the process required to achieve that. We expect more direction to be available to us in the coming days.”
Preseason tickets for the Toronto Maple Leafs officially go on sale this morning and in a tweet, the Leafs noted that “in the event that capacity allowances are impacted by public health and government regulations prior to the game” MLSE may cancel tickets and issue refunds.
Under the current provincial guidelines, indoor sports and recreational facilities can only host up to 1,000 spectators, well below the 20,000 seats available inside Scotiabank Arena.
The province has not yet commented on MLSE’s plan but last month, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore suggested that he would support lifting capacity limits in some places that had mandatory vaccination requirements in place.
As part of the Ford government’s new vaccine certificate program, which comes into effect on Sept. 22, people must show proof of vaccination to attend indoor sporting events. Children under the age of 12 are exempt from the policy as they are not yet eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. A few medical exemptions have also been identified.
“I would think that the government should assess that if everyone in that environment is immunized then that's a very low risk event,” Moore said on Aug. 24 when asked about the possibility of lifting capacity restrictions.
“So I would hope that the government will make a decision to enable them to move forward even if we have other restrictions in place.”
Moore previously indicated that he would like to see 90 per cent of all eligible Ontario residents fully vaccinated but said that target should not be a “measure by which we can hold businesses back.”
Outdoor sports venues, including the Rogers Centre and BMO Field, were given the green light earlier this summer to host up to 15,000 fans per game.
Ontario is currently in Step 3 of the province’s reopening roadmap and the Ford government has pressed pause on lifting restrictions any further due to concerns over the more transmissible Delta variant, which is the dominant COVID-19 strain in the province.
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Ashley Legassic