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Atletico Ottawa win home opener

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A new season of the Canadian Premier League is here and Dan Atasiei couldn’t be more excited.

Atletico Ottawa defeated their Ontario-rivals York United 2-1.

“This is my first home opener because I was living abroad the last few years. I’m so excited to see the boys play,” he said.

Atasiei is part of the Capital City Supporters Group, leading a fan march ahead of the Atletico Ottawa's first home match at TD Place.

More than 4,000 people were in the stands, the cool temperatures and rainy day didn’t quite draw the usual crowds for an opening day. A tough sell as sports clubs in the city compete to fill their seats.

“It is tough. There's no denying it,” said Atletico Ottawa president and partner Jeff Hunt. “Thank God we've got hearty fans and, you know, as the season goes on, we'll pick up the hockey fans as time goes on.”

This year, Ottawa saw the introduction of the PWHL, the 67s are in the midst of a playoff run and the start of the soccer club’s new season also means summer is around the corner. With that, is the return of baseball, Canadian football and basketball in the city. But it comes at a time when many people have changed their spending habits, so what does that mean for ticket sales in what's become a competitive market?

“Yeah there’s going to be competition, especially when people are suffering from a cost of living crisis,” said Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander.

He says to draw crowds who will spend the money, it has to go beyond the game.

“It's going to be the better experience and the better performance that kind of determines that whether it's, a tailgating part of the story, whether it's a halftime concert,” he said.

Atletico’s CEO and general manager Fernando Lopez has been busy during the off season adding 11 new players to the roster, including Ballou Tabla and Kinburn-native Kris Twardek. For Atletico, a win to start the season and a dedicated fan base helps.

“I mean, there's a lot of sports in the city, but I’m telling you right now, this is the only sport in the city where you're gonna get this kind of atmosphere,” said Capital City Supporters Group member Eddie Benhin.

“People say Ottawa’s a boring city. I totally disagree. Ottawa sort of become on the map,” said Atasiei. “People are actually going to start saying, oh, Ottawa has got teams, you know, lot of stuff to do.”

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