The Winnipeg Jets were back in action Sunday night with their first preseason game.
Despite the disappointing result on the scoresheet — an overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators — Jets fans had something to celebrate: a return to a full Canada Life Centre.
Increased security and COVID-19 regulations, however, made it a bit of a wait for many fans to get in the arena’s doors, and it’s something arena owner True North Sports and Entertainment is looking to remedy going forward.
“The mood coming in was so good, I think the majority of people gave us a mulligan last night,” True North’s Kevin Donnelly told 680 CJOB.
“They were just so thrilled to be in the building. We do have changes in store for the coming games, but the lines were long last night, and we’re going to make some changes to adjust to that.”
Donnelly said the increased waiting time was due in part to a new bag policy — patrons can no longer bring any bags, backpacks or purses, unless they meet the new 12-inch by six-inch by 3-inch requirements — essentially a small purse or a clutch.
“It’s a combination of COVID, we’re not looking to touch and get into people’s personal belongings, but it’s also driven by security and the NHL’s really very rigid on its security policy,” he said.
“We’re following the model across the NHL — that’s the same size and limitation that every NHL building is following.
“We’re trying to make it consistent for the audience to understand what they can and cannot bring to an event.”
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) September 27, 2021
Donnelly said similar changes may also be put in place at the True North-owned Burton Cummings Theatre, although that is yet to be formalized.
Exceptions to the bag rule include medical equipment, diaper bags, etc., and those bags will have to go through X-ray screening.
To make sure people can get through the gates and into their seats on time for puck drop, Donnelly said the arena will now be opening its doors 90 minutes early.
“I think people took to heart the notion of a second security check, so we are going to open 90 minutes early for the rest of the pre-season and probably into the regular season,” he said.
“We don’t like to see people waiting in line.”
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