Calgary professional sports teams prepare to welcome back fans

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WATCH: It’s been over a year and a half since the Calgary Stampeders and Cavalry FC have played in front of fans on home turf, but all that of that is about to change this week. As Matthew Conrod reports, the return to live, in-person sports events comes as Alberta prepares to remove more COVID-19 health protocols – Aug 2, 2021

It’s been a very long time since fans of the Calgary Stampeders have been able to see their team take the field at McMahon Stadium live and in-person, and now the wait is almost over.

This upcoming Saturday, Aug. 7, the Stampeders will play their first home game since Nov. 10, 2019, when they lost to the eventual Grey Cup champions, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, in the West Semi-Final.

The team says they’ve already sold over 20,000 tickets to the contest against the Toronto Argonauts.

While there will be no capacity restrictions at McMahon, due to on-field restrictions, some seats will be blocked off and reserved for team personnel.

Read more: ‘This is a travesty’: Albertans protest COVID-19 rule rollback for second day

Before the Stampeders game, Calgary’s other “football” team, Calvary FC, will be back on the pitch Tuesday night at ATCO Field in Spruce Meadows where close to 4,000 fans are expected in the stands.

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“It’s an exciting time for all of us” says Ian Allison, President and Chief Operating Officer of Calvary FC. “We’re getting the band back together. The players are here, the coaches are here and now we’re looking forward to welcoming the fans back.

Allison is also recommending fans give themselves more time to get the game due to ongoing construction near Spruce Meadows and new health measures, such as temperature checks, that the team has put in place for arriving fans this season.

A return to live, in-person sporting events does come at a precarious time, however.

COVID-19 case numbers are once again on the rise, and Alberta is only days away from effectively lifting all remaining health restrictions.

In recent days, the medical community has voiced their concern with this move, and rallies have been held in Calgary and Edmonton with people protesting the removal of restrictions.

Read more: City council approves changes to Calgary Events Centre deal, project to move forward in 2022

Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician out of Mississauga, Ont., believes that while it may be premature to lift these restrictions, it’s better to do in the summer as opposed to the fall, when other respiratory illnesses become more prevalent.

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On the topic of live sporting events, Chakrabarti says that to 2020, live events should be looked at differently due to vaccines.

“In this situation, vaccine coverage in the population is going to lead to a lot of dead ends in terms of viral transmission” says Chakrabarti. “It can explode the same way it did last year.”

Chakrabarti admits having thousands of screaming fans close to each other at an event will lead to transmission, but due to vaccines, large outdoor gatherings are safer than they were previously.

“Even if the cases go up, that doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing a huge spike in hospitalizations afterwards.”


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