scotiabank arena toronto

Scotiabank Arena unveils new safety protocols and Toronto is already complaining

The Toronto Blue Jays' playoff hopes have been dashed, but sports fans awakened to a new beginning this morning, excited about the impending start of the NBA preseason.

The Raptors are due to face off against the Philadelphia 76ers this evening in what will be the first true home appearance (albeit preseason action) for the team in just over 19 months

Scotiabank Arena witnessed a limited return of fans for the final stanza of the Leafs' annual playoff tragedy earlier this year. Still, today marks the first time The Vault will welcome back fans en masse since March 2020, when the NBA and NHL seasons were both suspended.

The final mass-attended sporting events held at Scotiabank Arena included the Raptors' February 28, 2020 game against the Charlotte Hornets and the Leafs' March 10, 2020 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Both leagues would temporarily suspend operations in the 48 hours after that final Leafs home game. Play would resume later in 2020 in limited "bubbles" with no fans in attendance, including the NHL bubble hosted at Scotiabank Arena.

While the Blue Jays' final home game on Sunday drew a crow of 30,000, the maximum capacity of the Scotiabank Arena based on Ontario Step 3 regulations has been limited to 10,000 spectators, or about 50 per cent capacity.

Looking at it from a glass (or arena) half-full perspective, this is bound to be a comparatively loud atmosphere versus the last year and a half of Raptors home games played in Florida due to international travel restrictions.

Still, not everyone is excited about returning to the arena. This afternoon, the facility sent out a tweet outlining its venue policy and safety measures, leaving a bitter taste even for Toronto sports fans well accustomed to misery.

Fans will have to undergo stringent safety measures, including the already well-known policies of mandatory face coverings and fans 12 or older having to present proof of full vaccination and government-issued identification.

As expected, there is more of the same anger from unvaccinated portions of the population, who feel that they should be allowed access if they can provide proof of a negative test, not permitted under the arena's policy.

What is coming as a surprise to some is the announcement, just hours before the first preseason NBA game, clarifying the arena's bag policy.

Though bag size policies are nothing new for pro sports facilities, the timing of the tweet — a last-minute reminder for those unfamiliar with the policy — frustration is apparent for those who have already planned their evening.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) "strongly encourages fans to not bring any type of bags," though small "purse type" bags smaller than 16.5cm x 11.5cm will be permitted.

Fans will be able to check their bags, but the location of the bag check area could spell trouble for those hoping to get home at a reasonable hour after the game.

And if that wasn't enough, others are calling out Scotiabank Arena for including branding placement for two cleaning products in a show of the facility's "enhanced cleaning procedures," the inclusion being labelled as "tacky" by one commenter.

Despite these hiccups, most are overjoyed to have their team back at home. Tip-off is at 7 p.m., and fans will be getting a first taste of the team's new post-Kyle Lowry era look.

Lead photo by

j.r.mchale


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