Fans are returning to the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday night for the first of four pre-season games at the ‘Dome. These will be the first ticketed events with non-media members of the public in attendance since Mar. 8, 2020, a span of 81 weeks.
Here’s what you need to know.

Five things to remember

Show up a bit early
Because of the extra vaccine verification steps (see below), it might take a little bit longer to get into the building before puck-drop. If you want to avoid missing the start of the game, give yourself a little bit of extra time. (Remember, it’s the first event in 81 weeks with fans, so it’ll take awhile for these extra steps to become a smooth system.)
Bring proof of vaccination
Fans aged 12 and older will need to bring proof of vaccination.
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From the Flames:
  1. Preferred & Fastest – For the most efficient entry possible, all ticket holders should sign up and download PORTpass and complete their COVID-19 proof of vaccination online or through the app. A photo, green check mark indicating fully vaccinated, and a QR code will be displayed from the app – no photo identification at entry gates required.
  2. The Province of Alberta’s printable vaccination card (printed hard copy or saved on a mobile device) verified with photo identification at entry gates. Vaccination cards are available at https://www.albertavaccinerecord.ca/
  3. Hard copy documentation of vaccination received at the time of vaccination (including the name of the person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided, and the date last dose administered) verified with photo identification at entry gates.
  4. Immunization records on the MyHealth Records app – select immunization tab at entry and verified with photo identification at entry gates.
  5. A photo of hard copy documentation or immunization records with the patron’s name clearly visible verified with photo identification at entry gates.
  6. Any other official provincial, territorial, or federal apps.
This policy applies to patrons 12 years and older. Children under 12 are exempt from this policy (except for mandatory mask wearing), but must be attended by an adult who meets the criteria of this policy while attending events at Scotiabank Saddledome and McMahon Stadium. Individuals aged 12-17 do not need to present photo identification along with their proof of vaccination.
Bring a mask
Everyone is required to be masked up at games, except when actively eating or drinking.
Bring your credit or debit card
In an effort to reduce contact points in the building, the Saddledome is cashless now. So make sure you have your credit or debit card. (Tickets for the 50/50 can be purchased via scanning a QR code or online.)
Be nice to the staff
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It’s been a long pandemic and a long time since any events have been held at the Saddledome. They might be a bit rusty, so be kind.

Yes, there’s still a pandemic

So, COVID-19 continues to be a pain in the world’s collective ass, despite fairly widespread vaccinations – the Delta variant sucks. Due to the surge in cases throughout North America, some local health authorities have capped capacities. (Via ESPN.)
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Montreal Canadiens are expected to open at 33% capacity, or around 7,500 fans. The Vancouver Canucks will open at less than capacity, too. While the percentage has yet to be determined, the NHL initially estimated it could be at 50%.
The NHL anticipates the Toronto Maple Leafs will be at full capacity this season. Currently, the team is only allowed 9,500 fans (50%) at Scotiabank Arena for its preseason game against Ottawa this weekend, according to the Toronto Star.
Not so in Alberta, where as of right now the Flames and Edmonton Oilers are slated to open at full capacity as they’re allowed to do so under current Alberta public health guidelines. As noted, everybody attending Flames games is required to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking, as defined under the restrictions exemption program.
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The current state of things have drawn some criticisms from doctors, per TSN’s Rick Westhead.
(A disclaimer here: it’s extremely rare for pre-season games to operate at anything close to full capacity, as a lot of season ticket-holders simply don’t go to the games and can’t find anybody to give the tickets to. But still: provincial guidelines allow the Alberta NHL teams to distribute every ticket.)
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If you’re feeling a little bit nervous about attending an indoor event with a bunch of people, even if they’re all vaccinated and masked, that’s understandable given what we’ve all slogged through over the last 18 months. There’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution and staying home if you’re anxious or otherwise feeling under the weather, especially since the pre-season involves precisely zero standings points on the line – they’re dress rehearsals, fundamentally – and it sounds like the Flames will have streams on their website for most, if not all, of their home games. (If you aren’t attending in-person, maybe chip a few bucks into the online 50/50 draw as the proceeds help out many local charities.)
Everyone’s comfort level is different these days, so do what feels best for you. The hockey season is a marathon, not a sprint – the regular season lasts until the end of April this season – and everyone on the ice, and off, needs to stay healthy (physically and mentally).
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