Walleye welcomes fans to first game in 615 days
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Toledo Walleye were back for opening weekend on Saturday. After the team decided not to play last season due to COVID-19 concerns, fans are thrilled to be back in the stands. Downtown is once again bustling with hockey fans.
“The hockey is a lot but it’s the people that you miss out, is what really kind of hurts not being able to interact and see everybody,” says fan Michael Scott.
It’s been a long time since the fans have gotten together to celebrate their favorite team. The Walleye closed down Huron in front of the Huntington Center and threw a pre-game party for fans all afternoon. It’s also been 615 days since Walleye fans, and their wallets, have brought their business to nearby bars and restaurants.
“To be able to see people downtown who are supporting not just the Huntington Center tonight and this pre-party, but they’re downtown supporting the businesses down here as well the bars the restaurants, and that’s something those folks haven’t seen wither for the last 615 days, so that’s great, it’s a win hopefully for everyone involved,” says Walleye vice president and general manager Neil Neukam.
The Walleye generate millions for the downtown economy every year. In 2015, the team says it helped bring in around $19-21 million during its Winterfest festival alone.
After a long year with so much canceled, seeing the team back on the ice is a beacon of hope not only for fans, but also for the city.
“Winterfest is going to be crazy this year, The product is back on the ice the team’s back on the ice, and I think you’re going to find that it’s going to bring millions into the city,” says fan Dennis Seymour.
The festivities continue on Sunday as the Walleye face off against the Fort Wayne Comets. The puck drops at 5:15. Buy tickets here.
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