BC unveiled its four-step plan to return to normal today, and that includes attending live sporting events.
Step 4 of the restart plan, which could occur by September 7 at the earliest, includes increasing capacity on large organized gatherings.
Needless to say, that’s great news for all the local teams.
“Once we get to September, if the data still shows that we’re in the right track, we can have larger gatherings where we can have audiences,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. “So a rock concert [for example,] or hopefully watching the Canucks. Maybe [they’ll] even get into the playoffs next year.”
Playoffs? Now that’s optimism.
The NHL season doesn’t typically start until October, so the Canucks have time on their side. That’s not a luxury for many of the other local pro teams, who are desperate to welcome back paying customers once it’s safe to do so.
“As a football club, we are very encouraged by both today’s announcements and the fact case numbers in British Columbia continue to decline,” said BC Lions president Rick LeLacheur in a media release. “As we’ve stated all along, our goal is to host as many fans as we can beginning with our home opener. We will continue to monitor developments over the next several weeks and work with Provincial Health Officials with the goal of welcoming back our great fans to BC Place in the safest manner possible.”
The CFL has set a target date to begin a 14-game regular season by August 5. In order for that to occur for the Lions at BC Place, it would need to fit into Step 3 of the province’s restart plan, which currently includes allowing things like fairs and festivals.
Premier John Horgan said he has spoken to both the Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps, and left the door open for those two teams, who have the ability to play outdoors, to potentially welcome fans back in Step 3.
“I’m optimistic,” said Horgan, who added that much will depend on case counts elsewhere in Canada. Manitoba, he noted, is currently experiencing a difficult third wave. “If they can push the season further into August, we might be in a better place.”
Horgan also mentioned the annual Canada Sevens rugby tournament held at BC Place, which was pushed back until this fall, as a possibility.
The pandemic wiped out the 2020 CFL season entirely, and the league has indicated that returning without fans in attendance isn’t feasible. The Whitecaps and Vancouver Canadians have each relocated temporarily to locations in the United States. In order for the Whitecaps and Canadians to return to Vancouver, they’ll also need clearance from the federal government to allow cross-border travel for themselves and their opponents, without the need to quarantine.