Raptors, Maple Leafs barring fans for at least three weeks
The Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs will not allow fans into NBA and NHL games at Scotiabank Arena beginning Friday due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.
In a statement, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — which owns the building and both franchises — said it expects the limitations to be in place for at least three weeks.
The decision comes after the province of Ontario said it was temporarily capping attendance at entertainment venues to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever was less.
“We look forward to hosting fans again as soon as the province deems it safe to do so,” MLSE said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the Raptors and Maple Leafs previously began operating at 50 percent capacity, before Ontario announced the tougher restrictions that would limit the 19,800-seat arena (18,800 for hockey) to a maximum of 1,000 fans.
The decision could lead the NHL to postpone more Maple Leafs games altogether. Earlier this week, the league postponed nine upcoming games set to be played in Canada due to several Canadian cities’ inability to welcome fans. One of them was the Maple Leafs’ Jan. 3 home game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Leafs, who have not played since Dec. 14 due to COVID-19, are still slated to host the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the Edmonton Oilers next Wednesday. A Jan. 17 home date with the New Jersey Devils likely will be affected as well.
The Raptors, who played the entirety of last season in Tampa, Fla. because of border-crossing restrictions, have six home games scheduled between Friday and Jan. 11 before a five-game road trip.
–Field Level Media