Photo: Chris Young The canadian Press
A section of the street alongside the Royal York hotel has been closed to create a “bubble” health in Toronto, in which the teams will remain until the end of the tournament to revive the NHL.
In the souvenir shop of the Temple of the hockey hall of fame, there is a family who completes his shopping. In the distance, a young boy is seen with a cap of the Maple Leafs of Toronto on Yonge Street.
Less than 48 hours before the beginning of tournament to revive the NHL, it is difficult to feel the enthusiasm of Torontonians. If it were not for the barriers in the likeness of the NHL that surround the Scotiabank Arena and the hotel Fairmount Royal York — where players laLNH, so those of the Montreal canadiens, are confined — no one strolling in the heart of the city centre could not imagine that 12 teams will be in action from Saturday in the Queen City.
“I think that, when the tournament will start, we’ll feel the enthusiasm,” said Frank Campo, general manager of the Novotel, a couple of blocks to the Scotiabank Arena.
“Even if it is less visible in the city because we can’t gather together and celebrate in a group, I think that there will be a craze in salons “, he added.
The large square on the west side of the Scotiabank Arena is usually invaded by the fans during the playoff games of the Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors. Pandemic requires, there will be no large gatherings this summer to celebrate the victories of their favourites — as many as the Leafs than the Raptors, the latter picking up the action on Saturday, in the bubble of the NBA erected near Orlando, Florida.
“This is what makes Toronto special ; all of these supporters who gather here at Maple Leafs Square or jurassic Park, according to the team,” pointed out Marcus, a supporter between the ages of 19-year-old native of Whitby. “And what’s more, we won’t see spectators in the stands. It will be strange “, he added.
Shop Sportchek in front of the Scotiabank Arena is practically deserted. The shelves are filled with sweaters, hats and other items to the colors of the Maple Leafs and Raptors. We also see a few memories of the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC.
Most of the sports bars are closed, even if the Blue Jays are in action, because the ontario government only allows the service on the terraces and take-out orders. This, however, will be different from Friday when the dining halls will re-open under strict conditions under the beginning of phase 3 of the déconfinement in Toronto. The hotels are also a bit crowded.
“Normally, we would be at full capacity. Here, when I speak with my industry colleagues, some reach 20 % occupancy on the weekends, while we are usually between 10% and 15% during the week, ” admitted Campo.
The NHL may have decided to use two hotels in Toronto to build his bubble Is, the event will not generate a lot of tourism and economic benefits since the viewers will not be admitted. In spite of everything, “Campo”, which carries a cover face to the effigy of the Raptors, sees merit in the presentation of the event.
“It shows a confidence in our city, the confidence that we are able to control the pandemic. Of course it will not have the same impact as if the spectators were allowed, but it contributes the same to a certain stimulus. Gradually, we will revive our industry, ” he said.
Even if hotels don’t fill them out because of the tournament, as the shops will not be outstanding sales and the sports bars will not be invaded by the fans, Torontonians are, however, happy to see their favorites in action.
“It gives a bit of dynamism to the city, and that attracts the curious to the center of the city,” said Marcus.
“After four months without being able to watch sports live, it will be a true paradise for the amateurs,” said Campo.