Believe it or not, the Ottawa Redblacks remain a hot ticket in the nation’s capital.
Despite a miserable 3-15 season in 2019 that featured one of the most anemic offences in the modern history of the CFL, Ottawa’s season-ticket renewal rate is at 96-97 per cent of what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
There was concern that ticket-buyers would stay away from the CFL following the cancellation of the 2020 season, but the Redblacks have shown an early indication that fans are excited to return to live games.
“I was scared of what would happen if we didn’t get back to playing football this year,” OSEG president and CEO Mark Goudie told Postmedia’s Tim Baines. “After our schedule was released, within 24 hours there were a thousand people reaching out to us – people who weren’t season-ticket holders, looking for tickets. That tells me there’s a pent-up demand for what we have going on here.”
Ontario will shift to the third stage of their provincial reopening plan on Friday, July 16. Indoor gyms and fitness centres will be open and theatres, casinos and cinemas will be permitted to have 50 percent capacity.
The shift should also allow outdoor sporting venues like BMO Field, Tim Hortons Field, and TD Place to hold 15,000 spectators or 75 percent of each facility’s capacity, whichever is lesser.
The Redblacks have welcomed this news, which would have been tough to believe during Ontario’s vicious third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had projections and scenarios set at different levels and even 15,000 we would have thought was optimistic,” said Adrian Sciarra, who is the senior vice-president of sports business operations for OSEG. “Fifteen thousand is good news and if it’s more, which we hope it is, that’s even better, much better than what we had been thinking.”
We’ll have to wait until the regular season gets underway on August 5 in Winnipeg to see exactly what crowds will look like this year, but this is a positive step for the Ottawa Redblacks and the CFL.