Vancouver Canucks games will almost surely start at partial capacity when Rogers Arena hosts its first preseason game on October 3.
But by opening night of the regular season? Well, there’s some hope that could be held at full capacity, with over 18,000 fans in attendance.
Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry didn’t make any promises at Tuesday’s media conference, but she did leave the door open for full-capacity crowds to return as soon as this fall — perhaps as early as October 24.
Teams like the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps are currently allowed to host games at 50% capacity. That was supposed to change on September 7, but rising case counts driven by the Delta variant have delayed BC’s move into Step 4 of the reopening plan.
Fans will need to show proof of vaccination to attend an indoor sporting event (BC Place is considered indoors whether the roof is open or closed), beginning with one dose on September 13 and two doses by October 24.
The Canucks home opener is scheduled for October 26.
“I am hopeful that we’ll transition over the next few months,” said Henry. “And by October 24, if we get enough people to step up and get protected, and to be able to participate in these events, that we’ll be able to increase the numbers of people so that we will be somewhere near what we had envisioned in Step 4 of the restart.”
When asked if this could mean Rogers Arena at full capacity, Henry said she would “like” that but added it would depend on “what’s happening” with the virus.
“We’ll need to watch what’s happening… We know that the last year that we saw in the fall, COVID also started to transmit more easily and to be more prevalent during the fall.”
Protecting “those really important things” like having students in school for in-person learning and allowing workplaces to stay open are of higher priority, said Henry.
“All of those things we’ll measure as we go through this next little while, but I actually really look forward to seeing a full hockey game sometime in the fall or early next winter.”