Senators urge fans to arrive early for first sellout in years

The Ottawa Senators are urging fans to arrive early at the Canadian Tire Centre for Tuesday night’s sold-out home opener.

More than 19,000 fans will pack the arena for the game against the Boston Bruins, the biggest crowd the rink has seen in years. The team has opened up some standing room-only tickets, but seats are entirely sold out.

“It’s been five years since we’ve had this level of crowd, possibly as many as six,” Anthony LeBlanc, the team’s president of business operations, told CTV Morning Live on Tuesday. “It’s going to be an incredibly exciting night.”

The turnout reflects the high level of anticipation for the team following a banner offseason in which they brought in star forwards Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat and locked up other key players with long-term contract extensions.

LeBlanc said the team is now approaching a 70 per cent year-over-year increase in season ticket sales.

“We started with a relatively low number, but we are moving towards the level of fandom that we certainly expect from this team,” he said.

Although the team lost its first two games in Buffalo and Toronto this season, LeBlanc says “there’s certainly no panic button being hit.

“I think tonight is going to be a real fun night for everybody in the building.”

LeBlanc said Tuesday night’s crowd at the CTC will be the largest since Daniel Alfredsson’s jersey retirement game in December 2016.

The team is warning fans to arrive at the rink early on Tuesday. Puck drop is at 7 p.m., but the team is planning pre-game festivities and the players will be introduced at a ceremony prior to puck drop.

“If you’re planning on arriving just before the game, I’ll almost guarantee you you’ll be disappointed,” LeBlanc said. “I would say if you’re anywhere east of Kanata, I would consider jumping in your car around 5 o’clock and heading out.

“We want to ensure that all of our fans can be there and be in their seats in time for puck drop.”

Other changes to keep in mind: the CTC is now a cashless arena, including the parking lots. Fans can pre-purchase parking through Ticketmaster.

Head coach D.J. Smith pointed out the team played a whole year in empty arenas due to COVID-19, so Tuesday night will be a welcome contrast.

“It’s great for our guys. We played a whole year with no fans, and now we’ve got a sold-out building. We’re going to give them an absolute effort.”

Added captain Brady Tkachuk: “We’re excited to see that place rocking. We need them to be loud.”

Tuesday night’s game is the start of a five-game homestand for the team. They will pay tribute to late owner Eugene Melnyk before Thursday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.

They then host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, the Dallas Stars on Monday and the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, Oct. 27.

Here’s everything else you need to know about attending Senators games this season.

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