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Sanitizing Stadiums: Sports Return

One of the biggest industries affected by COVID-19 was sports. Almost every major team shut down or postponed games, games have been played in empty stadiums if they were allowed to play at all, and they even postponed the Olympics for the first time since the World War II. New cases continue to creep up daily across nearly all professional and amateur sports, and some athletes have said they’ll be sitting out the season. But there is hope! Sports have slowly been rebooting across the world over the last few weeks, but mostly without fans. Sporting arenas and venues are beginning to re-open and make plans for sanitizing stadiums and the like, but with new strict protocols in place to keep fans, employees, and players safe when they’re allowed back. “Part of getting people to return is making sure that people feel safe and that all the things operators are doing are evident and communicated to their clientele,” says Bruce Miller, the managing director of Populous, a firm that has designed more than 1,300 sports venues, including 21 new or remodeled NFL stadiums. Fans won’t just want to hear what stadium operators are doing to keep the venue as clean as possible, they’ll want to see it too. The optics matter. And there will be some degree of theater involved in convincing the paying customer that their health is a priority. “We don’t want our buildings to look like a hospital,” said Miller. “We still want people to feel comfortable, have a great time coming together around a sporting event.”

Part of getting people to return is making sure that people feel safe and that all the things operators are doing are evident and communicated to their clientele.

In an interview with The Kansas City Times Kevin Uhlich, the Royals’ senior vice-president for business stated “It appears that social distancing will be the deciding factor for determining attendance capacity. There will be reduced attendance. Areas of the building will be sectioned off to keep the proper balance of fans in respective spaces. Concession stands and restrooms will be reconfigured for proper foot-traffic patterns to try and better control the distancing.” Bill Johnson, the design principal at HOK (who’s remodeling the Phoenix Suns area to feel more intimate) thinks fans will appreciate these new changes. According to Johnson,  “We’re in the middle of a time where I think we were already seeing fan expectations change for the live event before the pandemic actually occurred. A lot of these buildings were at a point where it was time to change them anyway. Now we’ve had to take a hard look at it. If we’re going to decrease capacity, how do we create that social experience when we’re trying to stay 6 feet away from each other?” Food and drink remote ordering and distanced pickup is becoming the norm. Wearable tech is also becoming big in the sporting arena sphere. There are plans for devices which could be made to beep or vibrate when too many people are in the same space, for instance. But how will fans know sanitizing stadiums is being taken seriously? With Tulu’s remote management platform, cleaners wear a camera that shows live and in real time footage that sporting spaces are properly cleaned and disinfected. Fans and arena guests can scan our QR code decals to be shown data on the last cleaning and even access videos of specific areas being cleaned and sanitized. With Tulu, we can all enjoy sporting events in the future!