Ottawa BlackJacks want 300 fully vaccinated healthcare workers in stands for home opener at TD Place
OTTAWA -- Ottawa's professional basketball team is hoping fans will be in the stands for the home opener next Thursday at TD Place.
The Ottawa BlackJacks have asked Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Lisa MacLeod for permission to host 300 fully vaccinated healthcare workers for three games, including the first game on June 24.
"If the NHL is allowed in the province of Ontario to have fully vaccinated healthcare workers, there's no reason why basketball in Ottawa should be given the same," said Michael Cvitkovic, President of the Ottawa BlackJacks.
The BlackJacks shared a letter on social media sent to Premier Ford on June 3. The letter notes Ontario allowed 550 fully vaccinated healthcare workers to attend a Toronto Maple Leafs game against Montreal on May 31.
"In consultation with Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the venue managers of the Arena at TD Place where the Ottawa BlackJacks play, based on the 10,000 seat basketball capacity of the venue and the precedent set in Toronto, we have estimated a safe capacity of 300 healthcare workers should be permitted to attend our home games slated for June 24, 28 and July 1, 2021 with complimentary admission," said the BlackJacks in the letter to the Premier.
The BlackJacks want to express their appreciation for the work of healthcare workers.
They’re the real heroes and so it’s an opportunity for out players and coaches to be able to say thank you, to be able to give back," said Cvitkov.
"To be able to have some people here, the acoustics are great, 300 people, vaccinated healthcare workers here at the Arena at TD place, it's still going to sound loud."
The team says Mayor Jim Watson has endorsed the plan, but they haven't received a response from the Ontario government.
The office of Health Minister Christine Elliott provided CTV News Ottawa with a copy of a letter the minister sent to the Ottawa BlackJacks president.
"Thank you for reaching out and offering your upcoming home games as opportunities to celebrate Ontario's healthcare workers," wrote Elliott.
"While we know now is not the time to begin reopening indoor sports venues, we will take your generous offer into consideration and we will follow up if an opportunity presents itself in the future."
Elliott's letter notes Ontario allowed 550 fully vaccinated healthcare workers to attend the Leafs-Canadiens Game, with "rigorous health and safety protocols" in place.
"This special exemption was made as a sign of our appreciation for their commitment to upholding the health and safety of Ontarians throughout the pandemic."
The Mayor's Office tells CTV News Ottawa that Watson sent a letter to the premier on June 3 in support of the proposal.
"I believe this is a safe and worthwhile initiative to replicate in Ottawa what was done in Toronto earlier this week. I’m certain this proposal would be a welcomed gesture of gratitude for our fully vaccinated healthcare workers in recognition of their efforts over the last 15 months," wrote Watson in the letter to Ford.
The Ottawa BlackJacks play in the Canada Elite Basketball League.