Winnipeg sports fans returning to the stands amid loosened restrictions

Manitoba sports fans love to show appreciation for their teams, but when COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, it took fans out of the stands.

Last weekend restrictions were loosened as part of the Manitoba reopening plan, and soon sports fans will be able to reap the rewards.

This Wednesday, Valour FC will be allowing fans into IG Field for the first time in months to watch a game live and in person.

Head Coach and General Manager for the football club, Robert Gale, said it's been a long off-season.

"It's been a tough time for everybody in Manitoba and across the world, let alone here, so sports, in general, have suffered," said Gale.

The team is allowing up to 2,000 people to attend the game on July 7 and all future matches scheduled for this summer.

Gale said fans are the heartbeat of the club.

"They can be the twelfth man in our sport, especially our fans," said Gale.

"It gives you an extra little tingle, and gives you all the feels and emotions, and reminds you why we do this. We're representing our city. We're representing our province and trying to make those fans proud every single day."

One Manitoba team, however, isn't allowing fans in the stands this season.

Earlier this year, The Winnipeg Goldeyes told their fan base the club would not be hosting games at Shaw Park this year. Instead, they're playing out the season south of the border in Jackson, Tennessee.

The team said they'll assess a return to Winnipeg when the restrictions are loosened at the border.

The CFL released their schedule in June, and the Winnipeg Blue bombers said there could be fans in the seats when the team returns to IG Field in August.

Blue Bombers President and CEO Wade Miller said Manitoba's reopening plan would allow 50 per cent capacity at IG Field by August. Still, he hopes to see that number increase as health restrictions continue to loosen.

He said fans would have to be fully vaccinated in order to attend games.

The 2,000 fans who attend the Valour FC game on Wednesday will only take up about 6 per cent of IG Fields capacity, and those fans will need to be fully vaccinated to attend as well.

Gale said the team is excited to see fans returning to stadiums.

"It's also a good indicator that we're getting ahead of this pandemic and closer to an end to what's been a very rough year and a half," he said.