Crowd Restrictions Force Raptors to Halt Ticket Sales for Home Games Crowd Restrictions Force Raptors to Halt Ticket Sales for Home Games
Restrictions on crowd sizes at live events put in place by Canadian authorities have forced the Toronto Raptors to halt all ticket sales for... Crowd Restrictions Force Raptors to Halt Ticket Sales for Home Games

Restrictions on crowd sizes at live events put in place by Canadian authorities have forced the Toronto Raptors to halt all ticket sales for the time being. The team made the announcement late last week, with immediate impact, as the team had a game the following day against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Ontario authorities have rapidly ramped up their restrictions on live event attendance amid the current surge in COVID-19 cases, first dropping arena capacity to 50 percent, then going all the way to a maximum of 1,000 with this latest cull. Friday’s game against LA was played in front of a nearly empty building, with just friends and family in the stands, as the organization opted against trying to whittle away at its permitted fans list.

“All upcoming Toronto Raptors games will transition to operating without any sold tickets effective Friday, December 31,” read the announcement from Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. “Up to 1,000 individuals may be in the building through League and team requirements. It is expected that these limits will be in place for the next three weeks. Season Seat Members and ticket holders should follow us on social for updates.”

The players, having gotten used to playing exclusively to TV cameras in the past two COVID-impacted seasons, weren’t too fazed by the shift. “That was more normal than not, to be honest with you,” said Fred VanVleet, who scored 31 points in a 116-108 victory for the Raptors. ”I didn’t even think about it. We’ve probably played just as much, if not more, fan-less basketball than we have in packed stadiums.”

After the onset of COVID caused the NBA to close its 2019-20 season in a “bubble” format, the restrictions on cross-border travel caused the Raptors to play their entire 2020-21 season using Tampa, Florida’s Amalie Arena as it’s home court. The team played its first true home game in 20 months October 20, and has gone 9-10 at home so far in the 2021-22 season. Toronto’s no-fan situation is expected to last for a minimum of three weeks, a similar timeline put in place for NHL teams including the Raptors’ Scotiabank Arena neighbors the Maple Leafs.

Thus far, Toronto is the only NBA team to have any crowd restrictions placed on its home games. The NHL has seen several of its franchises impacted, all due to rules put in place by Provincial governments in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta.

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