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Following on from the recent Ungerboeck Stadia & Arena Summit, which saw industry experts from Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, BC Place, KC Chiefs and Sports Venue Business discuss the roadmap back to reopening, this article shares insights from numerous industry executives.

Ahead of speaker duties on the Ungerboeck Stadia & Arena Summit, Sports Venue Business CEO, and ALSD International Executive Director, Katie McIntyre, spoke with a variety of industry executives from clubs and teams, stadia and arenas, to hear about their preparations ahead of potential reopening and thoughts for the future.

Question 1: Based on what’s known today, can you share some details on how you’re preparing for the possibility of reopening?

We will finish this season behind closed doors and I am afraid that almost 100% that will be the case until there is a vaccine. I don’t think we’ll see stadiums at 100% capacity until next year. I have some hope in the medium term we can start having partial admission at San Mamés.

Borja Gonzalez Bilbao, Stadium Business Manager, Athletic Club.

We will finish this season behind closed doors and I am afraid that almost 100% that will be the case until there is a vaccine. I don’t think we’ll see stadiums at 100% capacity until next year. I have some hope in the medium term we can start having partial admission at San Mamés.

Tom McCann, Premium Experience & Venue Director, Arsenal FC.

It’s clear that sport for the remainder of this season will go behind closed doors, this will be the base level for re-opening. If restaurants and bars are allowed stagger opening in July then we will follow. Ashton Gate is a big part of the community in Bristol and it is important we stay part of it during the phased re opening and support all of our community in the meantime.

Mark Kelly, Managing Director, Ashton Gate/Bristol Sport.

In rugby terms, we will be opening up in September with a series of interprovincial games played behind closed doors in the Aviva Stadium, so both our own stadiums (Irish Independent and Thomond Park) will not be opening back up until late 2020. It remains to be seen whether or not social distancing will apply at games, limiting our maximum occupancy from 25,000 to less than 5,000. We would presume that things will not go back to normal for sometime and that stadium entry will be permitted once fans have their temperatures tested.

Craig Power, Business Development Executive, Munster Rugby.

We plan to reopen our stadium tour June 1, albeit all now self-guided, under social distancing, with stewards positioned along the tour to ensure crowd management and that those taking part are abiding by the social distancing rules, etc.
We’re running preparations for two scenarios, with the MLS looking at running a tournament at the Walt Disney World Orlando complex from June onwards, then with California reopening from early June, it may be that we can run games at Banc of California Stadium. We are also involved in a number of working groups, liaising with the other major sports and entertainment facilities in Los Angeles, including STAPLES Center and AEG. We’re trying to understand the technology that can get us back to business; from reimagining the stands to contactless payment. The Guest Experience post pandemic has been a key focus.

Christian Lau, Chief Technology Officer, Los Angeles Football Club.

Allianz Arena in Germany, and tenant FC Bayern Munich, reopened their stadium tours and museum earlier this month, with the Bundesliga having got back to business, albeit behind closed doors, and securing enormous global TV viewership figures, highlighting just how much live sport has been missed during lockdown.

The Spanish LaLiga is set to restart next month, with the English Premier League (EPL) and many other European leagues looking likely to follow suit. To date, only the French Ligue 1, EuroLeague Basketball and Scottish Premier Football League have decided against continuing the season.

EPL clubs started to return to small-group training from Tuesday 19 May after it was agreed to introduce Step One of the Return to Training Protocol. It is part of the first phase towards restarting the Premier League, when it is safe to do so, and enables squads to train only while maintaining social distancing. Contact training is not yet permitted. Premier League Shareholders then voted unanimously on May 27 to resume contact training, marking another step towards restarting the Premier League season, when safe to do so. Squads are now able to train as a group and engage in tackling while minimising any unnecessary close contact.

NB: On Thursday 28th May, the Premier League Shareholders agreed a re-start date of Wednesday 17 June, provided that all safety requirements are in place.

To read the interview in full, head to:

Article by Katie McIntrye, Sports Venue Business.

About Sports Venue Business

SVB is the only platform dedicated to providing an access-all-areas pass to the sector’s key influencers and decision-makers, all delivered via a range of media-rich formats, from videos and case studies, to beautifully illustrated feature articles and in-depth interviews.

About ALSD International

Organised by the 30-year-old Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD) in conjunction with Sports Venue Business (SVB), ALSD International is Europe's one and only entity dedicated to the Premium/Club Seat and Hospitality sector, offering a 365 community to industry executives through regular get togethers, knowledge-sharing, filmed member interviews and roundtables, as well as an annual conference and exhibition.

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