VANCOUVER -- An initiative from a local sports team to help save a beloved tourist attraction from bankruptcy resulted in $1 million worth of sales in just one weekend.

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced Friday it had partnered with the Vancouver Aquarium to make and sell face masks during the pandemic.

The aquarium, which is home to 70,000 animals, said previously it may have to close for good due to a sudden drop in revenue. It's been closed since mid-March, following public health guidelines for COVID-19.

The facility relies on gift shop, concession and ticket sales to stay afloat, and said the sudden dip meant it might face bankruptcy.

Describing the aquarium as one of the city's most-loved attractions, Vancouver's MLS team said it wanted to help.

The aquarium and soccer team started selling face masks online Friday with their logos, mascots and other designs.

Within hours, there was so much traffic the aquarium's website had technical problems.

About 25,000 masks were sold in the first day, and by Monday morning, the sales topped $1.2 million, the Whitecaps said.

Whitecaps FC CEO Mark Pannes says a large chunk of the money raised will go straight to the facility.

"When you take the cost of production of the mask and the fulfilment to get the orders into the mail, not including postage, it's about $8, so about 60 per cent of the $20 sale price is going straight to the aquarium," he said.

Describing the sales so far as "amazing," Pannes said the response has been overwhelming.

"At the same time, it's been so gratifying because Vancouver's just come together to help us save the aquarium."

He said the masks had been purchased from people around the world, including in Austria, France and Japan.

Masks were also bought from residents of the Netherlands, Portugal and the U.K., as well as in every Canadian province and two territories.

"We just got this really large spread right now. And again, we're only three days into it. That's the most exciting part of it," Pannes said.

He said he wanted to use the platform the team had to do good for what he described as a "cherished civic institution."

"We have these natural built-in fan bases and people rally and respond. And now with social media you get the amplification, so we unleashed Whitecaps Nation on this project, and here we are."

With an interview from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim