An spokesperson for the organization that operates the Edmonton Oilers has confirmed a possible plan to get fans back into Rogers Place sooner rather than later.
Tim Shipton said the Oilers Entertainment Group has been in conversation with other venues that have opened for fans across the NHL and other sport leagues.
“We believe we can host fans in Rogers Place and do it as safely as any venue in the world, based on our track record and expertise,” Shipton said in a statement.
Shipton said the OEG has been in regular conversation with health officials in all aspects that allowed it to deliver the “safe return” of hockey during the season.
“We are continuing that dialogue as it relates to the return to fans at Rogers Place,” he said.
It’s an idea captain Connor McDavid is interested in.
“It would be a huge lift.
“Just in talking to some of the other guys around the league that have gotten their fans back, even in a limited capacity, they talk about what a huge lift it is,” he said.
The plan can only move forward if officials sign off on it.
According to Shipton, any fans in the building would have to be masked and practise physical distancing.
While he says they haven’t zeroed in on a specific attendance number, Shipton said it would be a “significantly reduced” number.
As a thank you, the organization is looking at inviting front-line workers in first.
“We certainly miss our fans and that kind of energy that they provide for us,” McDavid said. “If everyone deems it safe and there’s a way to work it out, I think it would be great.
“I certainly miss playing in front of the fans.”
Shipton said there wasn’t a timeline on when the OEG would like to move forward with the idea.
“We are not going to rush this process,” he said. “It needs to be done safely, and in accordance with all public health measures and best practices to combat COVID-19.”
The Edmonton Oilers have been playing without fans in the building since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020.