It’s a nervous moment that many North American pro sports teams are experiencing for the first time as COVID-19 vaccines proliferate and local governments ease pandemic restrictions. Fans returning to arenas and ballparks are encountering a different experience, not only with visible changes, such as face masks, tubs of hand sanitizer, and, in a few cases, COVID-19-sniffing dogs. There are also strengthened Wi-Fi networks to support a near-total mobile fan experience or air filtration systems that can catch particles many times smaller than the width of a human hair.
The costs of COVID-19 mitigation range greatly among venues, according to CAA ICON Co-CEO Marc Farha, from thousands of dollars to millions, depending on the age of a building, whether it’s indoors or outdoors, and what kind of technological changes were implemented. The Rangers wouldn’t disclose what they’ve spent mitigating the virus in the last 13 months.
In preparation for the return of fans, venue operators vetted thousands of new COVID-19-related products, some with legitimate long-term utility and others that seemed more opportunistic. Farha’s goal with new products and services was to determine that “there is true value there and not just a headline.”
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