Air Canada Centre

The Air Canada Centre’s new safety rules: say goodbye to bags, intermission cigarettes

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced that re-entry into the arena will be prohibited.

The days of taking big bags inside the Air Canada Centre and going out on a smoke break during intermissions are now officially over, according to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The ACC announced the policy changes on its Twitter page Tuesday.

Under the rules, fans will now be prohibited from re-entering the arena once passing through the exit turnstiles.

Wa’el Ksaifi is an avid smoker and occasional sound operator for the ACC. He was disappointed at the decision by Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) to prohibit people from briefly leaving the building.

“Because when you watch a game and have a couple of drinks, you want to go outside for a cigarette,” Ksaifi explained. “It is kind of annoying.”

Fans will no longer be able to re-enter the ACC once passing the main gates. (TORONTO OBSERVER// GIORGIO LEE)

But the new re-entry policy is not the only security measure the ACC has rolled out. In early September, a bag policy was put in place that restricts fans from bringing bags larger then 14 x 14 x 6 inches into the arena. Larger bags will now have to be left with security, outside of the venue, before entering.

Having attended both Raptors and Maple Leafs games since the ACC opened in 1999, Anesh Daya, the founder of an English as a second language school,  is no stranger in seeing the MLSE make policy changes. With large backpacks now being prohibited from the arena, Daya says the MLSE should compensate people by installing lockers to store personal belongings.

“I think if they are going to do that, what they should do is install lockers outside of the ACC, just like they do at the GO bus terminal,” Daya said, referring to the nearby transit hub. “For safety concerns it makes sense, but I think for people from out of town…[they] should have a place to put their bags.”

Working across the street from the ACC at the Real Sports Bar and Grill, chef Emmanuel Kwofre sees firsthand the number of people that sneak outside for a cigarette during intermission, and bring backpacks to the venue. As Wednesday marked Kwofre’s 7th anniversary with Real Sports Bar and Grill, he believes the ACC’s decision to take away fans in-and-out privileges is “unfair” and “ridiculous.”

“I think it’s theft,” Kwofre explained. “If people paid for their tickets, just give them the liberty to come out.”

But he does feel prohibiting backpacks from the arena is a smart security move.

“With everything that is going on in the world right now, we just want to be safe and I think that’s what they are trying to do,” Kwofre said.

MLSE’s media department was unable to comment on the new security measures by deadline. However, officials say that an announcement would be made regarding the changes, at the Maple Leafs home opener, on Saturday.