Canucks could be out up to $1 million per game at 50% capacity

After 38 days away from home, the Vancouver Canucks took to the ice at Rogers Arena Friday for a home game against the league-leading Florida Panthers.

The return to home ice happened just in time for Robin Delisle, who happened to be in town for a few days.

“While I was here, decided to grab tickets online and go check out the Panthers being that they’re kind of dominating the league right now,” he said.

The Canucks last played at home on Dec. 14 when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3.

After that, several games had to be postponed due to a high number of players in COVID-19 protocol, both on the Canucks and their opponents.

For a brief period in December, the National Hockey League shut down all cross-border travel amidst a surge in new cases in Canada and the United States.

And most recently, the league and the Canucks postponed a pair of January games in the hopes of an imminent change to provincial health orders limiting attendance to 50 per cent of capacity.

The restrictions did not change, so the team will play the next several games in a half-empty arena.

Rogers Arena can accommodate 18,910 spectators for hockey — meaning about 9,500 fans were notified their tickets were no longer valid for Friday’s game.

“We had to make some decisions on who could come to the game and our first priority is our season ticket members,” said Michael Doyle, president of business operations for Canucks Sports and Entertainment.

Doyle was reluctant to put a dollar figure on the amount of money the Canucks expect to lose while operating at 50 per cent capacity.

“It’s obviously a significant impact. Not just for the Canucks but also everyone that works at Rogers Arena and for Canucks Sports and Entertainment,” he said.

Sports business analyst Tom Mayenknecht thinks the team could lose several million dollars over the next few weeks.

“Minimum $750K, up to a million dollars per game, especially when you add on concession sales,” he estimated.

But with the restrictions extended past their original mid-January end date, the team did not have the luxury of postponing any more games.

It will push ahead at 50 per cent capacity and hope that the restrictions are lifted as the pandemic situation evolves with the Omicron wave.