Pandemic measures have made it a tough year for sports fans in Nova Scotia but things are finally starting to look up.
Most venues have been closed to spectators since March and some sporting events have been suspended due to provincial restrictions related to COVID-19.
The season is almost over, but the Halifax Wanderers professional soccer club took their first dip into pandemic crowd management with a watch party at the city's Wanderers Grounds on Saturday, with a big screen broadcasting the team play in Charlottetown.
Derek Martin, the founder and president of the club, said it has been a very difficult time for all sports teams and getting people back at events is important.
"We're in the business of bringing people together in large crowds," he said. " I don't know of any businesses that could be more adversely affected."
Since August, teams in the Canadian Premier League have been playing without fans in a sequestered environment at a University of Prince Edward Island field.
To conform to provincial rules the Wanderers Grounds were reconfigured into two zones that can hold 200 people. Fans inside the zones were required to physically distance from others in bubbles of eight people.
Martin said the fans knew it was important to follow the guidelines to not jeopardize any future events, and they were rewarded with a win against Calgary's Cavalry FC.
"It's been quite rewarding to know that we had a positive impact and gave them all a good afternoon to forget some of the trials and the tough days that they'd had over the last few months, and just relax and have fun and be a fan," he said.
Car racing fans were also able to take in the sights and sounds of the track on Saturday at Scotia Speedworld in Goffs, N.S., near the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Ken Cunning, the track's manager, said the cost of adjustments to the venue didn't necessarily make good business sense but they were done for the good of the sport.
"Racers wanna race. We are there to have racers and we just felt that our community, the racing community in Nova Scotia, was closed and we didn't have anything," he said.
Cunning said they had to make significant changes and take on additional staff.
"We had to create three more distinct entries and exits and now we needed portable ticket booths and we needed people to work them. So it sort of evolved and security evolved with this," he said.
With the changes, Speedworld was able to accommodate 1,225 fans — an impressive number nowadays — but far less than the 6,000 it would normally hold.
Cunning said the first experience with the new arrangements went well and fans were appreciative.
"The fans that came in were very respectful of what we were trying to do and understood what we were trying to do. I don't think we had a whole lot of issues with that. We certainly did not have to remove anybody from the facility."
With provincial rules slowly becoming less restrictive, even bigger sporting events are planned in the coming weeks.
The Riverside International Speedway at James River, near Antigonish, N.S., is planning a race for Sept. 26 that could see 2,000 fans congregating to take in the action.
Riverside's website said it plans to create self-contained zones with a maximum of 250 spectators.
The Scotiabank Centre will be reopening on Oct. 3 for the Halifax Mooseheads' home opener with a maximum capacity of 2,000 people split into 200-person zones.
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