Alouettes ‘very encouraged’ Canadiens allowed 2,500 fans in Bell Centre by end of May

Quebec premier François Legault delivered positive news for sports fans in Montreal on Tuesday.

His government has decided to allow a limited number of spectators at shows and events, most noteworthy 2,500 people at the Bell Centre beyond May 28. The Canadiens play the rival Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs and if the series goes six games, 12 percent of the arena can be filled.

“We are delighted with the government’s decision regarding shows and events. Although the number of spectators remains limited, we applaud this decision which allows us to foresee an eventual return to normality,” Canadiens executive vice president France Margaret Bélanger said in a statement.

That bodes well for the Alouettes to open doors to fans at Percival Molson Stadium this year. The CFL has targeted August 5 to kick-off the regular season, and requires a significant number of bums in seats to do so. If 2,500 hockey fans are allowed inside in May, it’s reasonable to expect more could be outside later in the summer.

“The Montreal Alouettes are very encouraged by the announcements made by the provincial government on Tuesday, which are consequent with the ongoing discussions the organization has had with the public health officials these past weeks,” the team said in a statement.

“Since the presence of a certain number of fans in the stands is essential for the Alouettes to return to play, today’s announcements is a step in the right direction considering that the team’s first home game (in Montreal) would most likely take place in September. It goes without saying that the organization is also extremely happy that youngsters will be able to practice their favourite team sport once again.”

The league and union began meetings during the second week of February with a focus on playing football this year. The two sides have submitted return to play health and safety plans to various levels of government in Canada and are working to finalize the protocols with six provinces before getting the final stamp from the nation’s capital.