OTTAWA -- The safe return of professional outdoor sports in Ottawa is just weeks away.

Atlético Ottawa soccer club will be hosting the first outdoor sporting event post-COVID lockdown, with a surprise for fans looking to attend the home opener. 

“Never has our community needed a more symbolic return to normal, than now,” says Jeff Hunt, President of Atlético Ottawa. “On Aug. 14, our home opener will be pay what you want.”

To celebrate the first outdoor sporting event at home, the team is giving 15,000 fans the chance to attend the game at TD Place for any price they want. 

“You can choose for nothing. You can choose a little, or you can choose a lot. Any profits will go to the youth services foundation,” says Hunt. 

“This is an opportunity for people who may not have the means to come to a professional sporting event, to come and maybe pay a dollar or two,” says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

Fans, like Darrin Leboeuf are eager to get back in the stands. 

“I’m looking forward to it,” says Leboeuf. “Especially since we haven’t been around people for a long time. It’s going to be really something of a nice change.”

It has been more than 500 days since the official announcement of the return of professional soccer in Ottawa back in February 2020. Atlético Ottawa head coach Miguel Ángel Ferrer Martínez says they are ready.

“We prepared for two months in Spain, and the last three or four days in Winnipeg,” says Martínez. “And yah, the guys are very ready to play in front of their families and all their supporters. I think that’s the most important for everyone.”

Chris Mannella is a midfielder for the team. He says finally being in front of a home crowd is going to be surreal. 

“Oh, I can’t even put it into words,” says Mannella. “One, to get playing is one thing. To be back home in front of fans is a completely different thing that I didn’t know when I was going to be able to experience. The fact that I know it’s going to be here in our home opener is something I’m really excited for. I can’t even put it into words.”

Not only are they excited to be back, they say they are ready to win it all. 

“Myself and the team in that locker room knows that we have the team to compete,” says Mannella. “And not only compete but potentially win. So I think that’s kind of where our heads at, and we expect nothing less.”

Tickets for the home opener and every home game are on sale right now