Canucks banking on capacity limits being lifted, selling all regular season seats
With British Columbia still in Stage 3 of COVID-19 restrictions, Vancouver Canucks pre-season games in Abbotsford and at Rogers Arena will have 50 per cent capacity and most seats will be filled by season ticket holders.
But the team is banking on that capacity restriction being lifted in time for the regular season home opener.
“Our plan is at the beginning of October, we would go on sale for full capacity as of our opening game on Oct. 26, and we are hoping it would be 100 per cent when that time comes,” said Michael Doyle, the Canucks president of business operations.
If the 50 per cent venue capacity limit remains in place when the puck drops on opening night and the game sells out, half of the fans who bought tickets would need to be refunded in order to meet the restriction.
Sports business commentary Tom Mayenknecht thinks it’s the correct strategy to sell all the tickets anyway.
“It is easier to provide a refund, provide a credit to future games than it is to all of a sudden rush sales at the last moment,” he said.
“I have never seen situation in the business of sports where an NHL franchise like the Canucks or others have to do as much contingency planning as they’re doing,” Mayenknecht said, adding “It’s not an easy time.”
He believes the Canucks would prioritize season ticket holders if they’re forced to have smaller crowds this season, which could shut casual, single-game fans out of Rogers Arena.
“The bread and butter of the National Hockey League continues to be season ticket holders,” said Mayenknecht.
The Canucks are in contact with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. But with the clock ticking down to opening night, Doyle doesn’t know when she’ll make a decision on venue capacity.
“We are working closely with them, and we don’t have a date. I don’t think she has given anyone a date yet,” he said.
If the crowd size restriction remains in place, it will be devastating for the Canucks bottom line.
“The single biggest revenue driver for the NHL is the gate, is ticket sales. And if you’re cutting your budget in half, it’s a massive hit,” said Mayenknecht. “But it’s at least better than having no fans in the stands whatsoever.”