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Overflow crowd for Halifax Wanderers game generates buzz for more big events

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HALIFAX -

A huge crowd for Wednesday night’s HFX Wanderers FC soccer game might be a hint at the future of how large events operate.

"6,413 in here last night," said Derek Martin, HFX Wanderers FC founder and president.

The atmosphere was electric as Halifax hosted CF Montreal in the quarterfinal of Canadian Championship.

An excited crowd and festival-style celebration showed the long awaited enthusiasm of sports fans to return to live games after a tough 18 months.

The game also featured strict public health protocols.

"We implemented the double vaccination rule for entry," said Martin.

Martin hopes Wednesday night’s game will serve as a springboard to help people feel confident again about hosting and attending big events.

"Certainly is a lot of work that goes into it. There are a lot of costs that go into it,” said Martin. “And certainly it is important for the public at large to feel some sense of normalcy back."

Not just fans watched at this game closely – those in the events industry were also keeping a close eye on the operations at the Wanderers Grounds.

"It gets us excited,” says Erin Esiyok-Prime, Marketing and Communications Director for Events East.

An overflow crowd for a soccer game is likely the opening chapter to help boost momentum for more big events.

The Halifax Mooseheads will soon allow full capacity crowds at the Scotiabank Centre.

"We will require proof of vaccination," said Esiyok-Prime, who added busy times for the Halifax Convention Centre are fast approaching.

"We have 50 events booked this fall already. When you look at 2022 and beyond, we see national and international events which means tourism."

It all adds up to good news, but caution is still a must when attending or planning large events says infectious disease specialist Dr. Lisa Barrett.

As more events like this are held in the future, Barrett hopes society does not ease up on public health measures.

"We are nice and steady state at this point,” said Barrett. ‘We are fluxing upward and that means we may need some temperance when it comes to how quickly we move forward."

Barrett said measures like masking, testing and knowing how much virus is in the community remain crucial.

While the Wanderers lost Wednesday’s game 3-1 to CF Montreal, many fans were all smiles leaving the Wanderers Grounds. 

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