Hamilton Tiger-Cats returned to Tim Hortons Field Monday for the first home game in more than a year, and for the first time, those in attendance were required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 or test negative for the virus.
Superfan David Cicci said it feels ‘incredible’ to be able to return to the stands to cheer his team.
“It’s been 685 days since the Black and Gold played in Tim Hortons Field,” Cicci told CBC Hamilton.
Cheers from within the stadium could be heard more than a kilometre away in east Hamilton as the game got underway.
“Our group is used to this tradition of coming here for every Labour Day … it doesn’t matter what game we go to during the year, this is the game.”
Cicci and 24 of his friends make up the Box J Boys. All 25 members were present at Monday’s game, he said.
“It’s an incredible atmosphere,” Cicci said.
Meanwhile, Cicci said he had no issue with the new requirement that those in attendance at the game must be vaccinated.
“They’re being responsible and diligent and just following government protocols and doing the best they can to help mitigate and control the issues,” he said.
“We all work in professional industries ourselves, like I just went to a conference in Calgary and I had to show proof of double vaccination before I went.
“So that’s just the way it is. I tell you right now, I haven’t seen this parking lot this packed in a long time so I don’t think it’s deterred anyone,” Cicci added.
The Ticats are hosting the Toronto Argonauts in their 50th meeting in the Labour Day Classic.
Hamilton’s last game at home was the 2019 East Division Final — a 36-16 victory over Edmonton that propelled the Ticats into the Grey Cup.
‘It’s so nice to be back’
Wally Walker said he remembers how he felt when the Ticats almost declared bankruptcy in the early 90s, and the talk on the future of the CFL during the pandemic, adding that he is happy to see the team returns to Hamilton.
“It is so nice to be back,” he told CBC Hamilton.
“I think the Ticats will win but the Argos are a very good team as well and they may want to spoil the party but I’m hoping the Ticats will eke out a win somehow.”
Regarding the vaccine requirement, Walker said people feel more comfortable and relaxed being amongst others who are also double-vaccinated.
“I understand both sides, but at the same time I think it’s the right decision.”
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