The Edmonton Elks football team is aiming to fill the stands at Commonwealth Stadium when it kicks off the 2021 season Saturday — the first game there since 2019.
The stadium is selling tickets for full capacity this season with no separation between seats or skipped seats in the stands.
Chris Presson, Elks president and CEO, said the stadium's capacity is 55,000 people and as of Thursday afternoon, the Elks have sold 25,000 tickets.
"We feel good about where we are at this stage in the game," Presson said during a news conference at the stadium Thursday.
"Certainly we'd like to be completely full but we also understand the hesitancy some may have, and we just ask you to give us a chance to prove how safe it is here."
Commonwealth Stadium, the Elks and the City of Edmonton listed a number of changes from pre-pandemic times.
They recommend fans wear a mask at the stadium, but it's not mandatory.
They're encouraging physical distancing where possible, but that's not required either.
Masks are available at the door for ticket holders who want one.
"It's been far too long since our fans have been able to enjoy a game at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium," Presson said, noting it will be 650 days since the team last played a game there.
Switch to online buying
Game tickets are sold online only, including to mobile devices, to avoid touchpoints.
Tickets for the 50-50 draw are also sold over digitally.
Presson said mobile ticketing is now an industry standard, and the Elks are actually behind the trend in North America.
The majority of fans say downloading tickets on their phones is a good move while some are still asking how to do it, he noted.
"We'll have 100 additional people outside the gates to help walk you through that, because we don't want to create a frustrating experience."
Guests who leave the stadium anytime throughout the event can't go back in. Smoking will be allowed in designated areas.
'We feel safe'
Presson noted that no athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 and they continue to test the players every other day.
"We feel safe, we have been safe and you should as well," Presson said. "We just ask you to give us a chance to prove how safe it is here."
Commonwealth Stadium is discouraging people from bringing bags into the stadium unless they're clear plastic or vinyl. Small clutch bags without a handle, like a wallet, are ok, they said.
Debit or credit is preferred instead of cash. Condiments, napkins, straws will be given directly to customers buying food instead of having self-serve stations.
Touchless hand sanitizer stations will be set up at several locations at the stadium, and restrooms have touchless sink faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers.
What hasn't changed: Fans are not allowed to park in neighbourhoods around the stadium on game days and during other events held at the stadium. Only residents with valid permits are allowed to park on streets.
Edmonton Transit Service buses will run between park and ride locations across the city to Commonwealth Stadium. The LRT will run every 15 minutes.
Fans can use their mobile game ticket to take the bus or LRT for two hours before the game, during the game and two hours after the game.
Masks are still required on public transit.