PEI

Financial hit 'very big' but Charlottetown Islanders trying to focus on hockey

A long road trip to start the season is over for the Charlottetown Islanders, and the QMJHL team is looking forward to its home opener this weekend.

Home opener is Friday

The Charlottetown Islanders are off to a strong start on the road. (Submitted by Darrell Theriault)

A long road trip to start the season is over for the Charlottetown Islanders, and the QMJHL team is looking forward to its home opener this weekend.

But with the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, there won't be room for all of last year's season ticket holders in the stands this year. The team had 1,450 season ticket holders last year, but the maximum capacity at Eastlink Centre will be just 970 this season.

"It was a little disappointing," team president Craig Foster said about the final cap on crowd size, speaking to Island Morning host Mitch Cormier.

"We obviously feel for those people that have been supporters of the team for a long time."

Tickets were released on a first-come-first-served basis, said Foster, which basically meant there was only room for people who bought their tickets in the spring before sales were suspended. Previous season ticket holders who didn't get seats will be given a discounted price for watching online.

Changes in the stands

The team is busy getting Eastlink Centre ready after a strong start on the road, going 4-1.

The team's scheduled game in Moncton on Sunday was postponed due to an outbreak in that city, but a game against Moncton in Charlottetown Saturday is still scheduled to go ahead. The home opener Friday is against Saint John.

The ice is still being prepared at Eastlink Centre, along with changes in the stands.

Every other row is closed. Fans will not be allowed to leave their seats except to go the bathroom. Concessions will be delivered to your seat. Mask-wearing will be mandatory.

While the team is trying to focus on hockey, the forced reduction in ticket sales is still an issue that needs to be addressed, said Foster.

"The financial part of it is very big," he said.

"To, obviously, take a 70 per cent hit on your admission is going to be very tough."

The team has not yet made any application to the province for support, he said. Quebec has offered aid to QMJHL teams in that province, but Nova Scotia has said it will not.

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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