Very few things equal the joy and excitement of thousands of fans streaming into stadiums and arenas to see their favorite sports teams and music acts perform. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic that led to lockdowns and general caution have made those sorts of gatherings an impossibility through much of 2020. Arenas and stadiums throughout the world have ensured that the show will go on through some innovative and inventive alternatives. These are just a few of the ways that these venues have kept joy alive all year.
A Smaller Game Day
Throughout the country, NFL teams have been given the option of creating their own COVID safety rules. The Kansas City Chiefs decided that the game, and all of its traditions, would go on, with some adjustments to keep fans safe. The stadium, which normally accommodates 76,000 attendees was opened up at reduced capacity, with only 16,700 fans attending their season kick off on Sept. 10. Fans were permitted to participate in tailgating before the game. The only restriction was that they must keep their celebration limited to ticket holders within their pod. The stadium also cut risks by requiring masks at all times guests were not eating or drinking and moving to a cashless system at concession stands.
Bristol Motor Speedway Rolls On
While normally NASCAR holds its All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, this year they moved the race 160 miles northwest to Bristol Motor Speedway, which boasts the world's fastest half-mile track. The decision was made based on infection levels in highly populous North Carolina and a desire to keep fans safe.
To keep the race lively but safe, reduced numbers of tickets were sold. Venue runners kept the space from feeling empty by adding colorful banners to the seating areas left clear. A limited number of attendees were permitted to camp overnight in the RV area. Throughout the NASCAR racing season, enhanced protocols allowed for the league's 36 race series to proceed without much interruption. Switching to one-day events and limiting garage access to essential personnel keeps participants safe while still allowing for a great show.
Drive-in Concerts at Storm Stadium
There's nothing quite like seeing favorite bands live in huge, stadium-size venues. Storm Stadium in California offered an innovative alternative so that people could scratch that live music itch. The stadium organized a five-concert series with an unusual catch: the audience would watch the music from their cars. The events started in October and will finish up in December.
Tickets for the shows range from $49 per car for general admission up to VIP tickets at $499 a car. VIP includes six seats on a private couch near the stage, along with dinner and an open bar. Artists performing included Bruno and the Hooligans, the Who Experience and Queen Nation.
New Use for a New Stadium
The Texas Rangers had not yet gotten to play a single game in their new stadium when the pandemic hit. Venue managers decided that the stadium would not remain unused even if safety restrictions meant that the usual baseball crowds were not able to attend. The first performers to make their way to the field, as it turns out, were musicians offering a summer drive in concert series.
From June 4th to June 7th, national recording artists took over Tundra Lot B to entertain guests who arrived to watch the show from their cars. Tickets ranged from $40 to $80 per car. Each show involved a 60 minute acoustic set played over FM radio just like old-time drive in movie theaters. The event even allowed for attendees to pick up concert t-shirts, which many attendees consider a must. The only change there was that concert tees were purchased online alongside tickets in advance in order to avoid lines at the shows.
Nostalgia at the Uptown Drive-In
Not to be outdone, Yankee Stadium offered a month long festival in July that combined a concert, game shows, and food and drinks delivered to attendees' cars every weekend that the show went on. Activities ranged from in-car karaoke, to trivia and more. Saturday and Sunday nights were geared toward fun and romantic date nights, while Saturday and Sunday matinee shows offered a family-friendly brunch.
The stage was lifted in order to ensure that viewers in every car had a great view. Music and MCs were broadcast over attendees' car radios.
With a likelihood that restrictions will be needed for at least several more months, innovative venue managers are working out new ways to keep their stadiums and arenas in action while protecting the fans and the players. New strategies, including stadium redesigns, and even high tech strategies to identify crowd control solutions, are already in the works. Like music and sports fans everywhere, we're looking forward to seeing what comes next. We're always happy to help with design updates that will allow teams and venues to keep on entertaining the fans in ways that work.