Hextall on Hockey: Fan experience may never be the same

Winnipeg Jets fans celebrate their team in the playoffs in this file photo. Global News / File

We may never see a Winnipeg White Out again.

The tradition of a sold-out crowd of Jets fans draped in head-to-toe white cheering on the team’s playoff push may be a thing of the past, as people in mass gatherings has become just that due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Even with the vaccine slowly making its way to the public, the chance permanent change won’t be made to how we gather is small.

Think back to before the tragedy of 9/11. It changed the way we live, from taking our shoes off at airport security to metal detectors at sporting events.

Now, nearly two decades after the attack, it would seem strange not to have these layers of security always present.

So when fans are allowed to return to hockey games, what will be the new layers of security to protect against the virus?

Let’s start with socially distanced seating.

Perhaps sections of individual seats will be removed to make room for more suites — small suites — that could fit four people so you could attend the game with your family or those in your bubble.

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Read more: Creating a crowd out of thin air — the Winnipeg Jets’ arena ‘sweetener’

Every seat may start to receive personal food and beverage service to avoid people congregating in the concourse.

On that note, will between-period mingling be a thing of the past to avoid congestion in the concourse?

Will fans be assigned a specific bathroom to use near their section?

Contact tracing — will your game ticket now have more weight to it? Through technology, could a ticket turn into the way that teams track who is at the game, in case of an exposure to the virus?

When (or if ) full capacity is allowed back to a hockey game, will you have to be vaccinated to attend?

It all seems too much but we would be naive to not expect change.

I hate to be Debbie Downer but I fear the fan experience at the good ol’ hockey game may never be same.

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