How Paul McCartney sang “Let ‘Em In.”
Saturday’s NHL display between the Maple Leafs and the Senators was the first test of the province’s expanded capacity for sports facilities, and as the puck dropped, the crowd appeared to be in the 12,000 to 14,000 range, above from the previous limit of 9,500. However, with COVID-19 not yet squashed, all clients and staff have yet to provide proof of vaccination, they were encouraged to wear masks and socially distance themselves as much as possible.
While Friday’s announcement came too late to sell tickets and bring the Scotiabank Arena to its usual NHL mass of more than 19,000, the house is expected to be full by Wednesday’s season opener against Montreal.
The Raptors, who were under the same 50% rule at the SBA, can expand from Monday’s preseason game against Houston. At BMO Field, the Argonauts still have three CFL home games as of October 30, while the increase is also good news for the Ottawa Redblacks and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the latter hosting December 12.Gray Cup in its stadium that can hold around 25,000. Toronto FC still has four home games until the first week of November.
The noise generated by the extra fans was evident on Saturday, from the introductions of the players, the national anthem and the first shots and shots.William Nylander can’t wait to see the stands packed again.
“You miss that,” the winger said Saturday morning. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had that full barn. That energy that they bring is incredible, the atmosphere, you need them in the moments of the game (when) they get behind you and push the team forward.
“We have a lot of fans on the road and we miss those guys too.”
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe was encouraged that sports and recreation, at the very least, could finally get back to normal.
“The most important thing is that it will be safe for us to have full capacity,” Keefe said. “Wednesday night, everyone will be excited about it. It is a great sign of what is happening with public health. “