Safely preparing your venue for the return of fans: insights from Ireland and the US

How are venues worldwide preparing for the return of fans? During ESSMA Spotlight, Vince DiGennaro focused on the COVID-19 guide on spectator safety for American venues while Eamon O'Boyle shared research on the process of reopening Irish sports venues after COVID -19.

Vince DiGenarro kicked off his presentation with the following statement:

The stadium and event industry is marked by innovation and perseverance, capable of adapting to very different situations. All of us can attest to the fact that our roles have constantly changed. And we will always be part of that change. We as an organisation and an industry are always going to have to think about public health and making people feel safe, even more so than we did before COVID-19. 

NBA bubble at Disney World

In the US, several leagues opted for a ‘bubble’ tournament in which all teams gathered at one place to play their matches without any contact from the outside. Something which is less feasible here in Europe but proved to be a success last year for NBA, MLS and UFC.  

Social distancing principles as common thread and basis

As preparation for reopening sports venues in Ireland, Eamon O’Boyle and his team looked at different countries to see what different clubs were doing. While there are certainly differences between each country (for example the exact distance applied in social distancing) the main principles remain of course the same: social distancing, reduced capacity, face masks, contact tracing, dedicated code of conduct, etc.      

Fan behaviour post-COVID-19

The way that people tailgate, order tickets, spend money pre- and post-match will have to fundamentally change. The main challenge will be venue entry, it will be completely different from what we were used to in terms of queuing and security screening. In addition, signage and communication is crucial to inform fans about what the stadium operators are doing to keep them safe and what they could do to make the event even safer.

Next steps

Mr. DiGennaro focussed on two initiatives which could be implemented in the future:

  • Introducing self-testing kit

  • Via an app showing your negative test to gain access to the stadium

Access both presentations

ESSMA Spotlight participants can access the presentations and the recorded livestreams via the ESSMA Spotlight platform. If you couldn't join us during ESSMA Spotlight, you can only access the .pdf presentations via the ESSMA Knowledge Platform.