Ottawa's CFL team is getting ready for its first regular-season games since COVID-19 first arrived in Canada, and a lot of work needs to be done between now and the home opener at TD Place.
The CFL schedule, released Tuesday, has the Redblacks starting the regular season in early August with a western road trip before a home opener on Saturday, August 28.
Before that can happen, the team needs to iron out the logistics of hosting a game for the first time since late 2019.
"On a typical Redblacks game day, we can have 800 part-time employees working that event," said Mark Goudie, CEO, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. "We haven't seen those 800 employees in the last couple of years, and they turn over."
In addition to logistics, the team has to iron out its health and safety protocols with health officials, to prevent or reduce the spread of COVID-19.
While spectators are not currently allowed at pro sports events in Ontario, Goudie says Ontario's pro sports teams have proposed that the province include smaller, physically-distanced crowds of spectators at games in the next phase of Ontario's re-opening.
"When we go into Step 2, for outdoor venues we were recommending one-third of capacity, which is kind of a socially-distanced crowd," Goudie told CityNews Ottawa's The Rob Snow Show. "Everybody can come in separate entrances and stay two metres away from each other, would be a reasonable approach."
With rising vaccination rates and declining COVID-19 infections, Goudie is hopeful that the Redblacks game against the Toronto Argonauts, in early November, will be able to be held without pandemic restrictions.