Fans back in the stands: Nearly 2,000 attend pro basketball game in Fraser Valley

Wednesday night, Abbotsford Centre hosted the largest indoor gathering of British Columbians in 18 months.

The Fraser Valley Bandits had 1,800 fans in attendance for a home game against the Guelph Nighthawks of the Canadian Elite Basketball League.

The sight of fans filing in left some feeling a little uneasy.

“At first, I feel like it’s going to be a little weird. Just to be like so close and everything. But then after a while, I think we’ll get used to it,” one teen told CTV News as he prepared to go inside.

“It is so exciting! Super exciting. And you don’t have to wear a mask,” a woman said as entered the arena.

With masks optional, most at the game chose not to wear one, but there were a few who kept theirs on for the duration.

Once the game got going, most people seemed to quickly get over the unusual feeling of being in a crowd during a pandemic.

“We’ve been working with the provincial health authorities, the local regional health authority, Fraser Health, we’re adhering to the provincial health orders here. You can see we have 50 per cent capacity here tonight,” said Bandits vice-president Dylan Kular.

With just two home contests remaining, plus a possible playoff date, the team is considering increasing capacity at Abbotsford Centre to 2,400.

“For us, the best part of running a professional sports team is having fans in the stands,” said Kular.

The Bandits went on to win the game, improving their season record to five wins and two losses.