Senators expect capacity crowds to be allowed to start NHL season

The Canadian Tire Centre, home rink of the Ottawa Senators, is pictured in Ottawa on Thursday, March 12, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

The Ottawa Senators say they expect to be able to host capacity crowds when the NHL regular season starts next month.

Fans will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks when they return to the Canadian Tire Centre, the team said in a news release Friday afternoon.

Ontario’s current rules limit indoor spectator sporting events to 50 per cent of the usual seating capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is less. That would cap the number of fans at the CTC at 1,000.

But the Senators said Friday they expect to be allowed to fill the building for the team’s home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs a month from now. The building’s capacity is 19,153.

“It is the organization’s expectation, based upon its full compliance with provincial requirements, that Canadian Tire Centre will have the ability to welcome full capacity for opening night on Oct. 14,” the release said.

The team is set to welcome fans back in the building for the first time in 18 months next Saturday, Sept. 18, for a rookie game against the Montreal Canadiens.

The team’s mandatory vaccination policy will take effect that day. Fans will require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination and must bring photo ID.

News Release: The #Sens are preparing to welcome patrons back to @CdnTireCtr where a vaccine policy will take effect on Sept. 18:

— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) September 10, 2021

The Senators also announced Friday that single-game tickets will be available starting Wednesday at 10 a.m.—earlier for season ticket holders and Sens insiders.

The provincial vaccination certificates start Sept. 22, but the Senators are joining other sports teams across Canada in requiring proof before then.

The Senators are the last Canadian NHL team to release a vaccination policy. The team says it will continue to provide updates on venue capacity, entry requirements and ‘facility enhancements’ at the Canadian Tire Centre.