By R.V. Baugus
Does it not seem years ago that any public assembly venue saw its last live event take place? The simple truth is that it has been less than 90 days, but oh how it seems like forever.
During that very short time span we have witnessed the bottoming of the economy, rampant job loss, full-blown death numbers from the COVID-19 coronavirus, and, most recently and sadly, the death of an unarmed African American male by a white police officer in Minneapolis that has drawn protests and more all across our great country.
So, can we please — please! — open our venue doors soon to return to a sense or normalcy for everyone while understanding and working toward deep-rooted issues within our country that must be solved?
Those days of opening are actually sooner than later, we are happy to share.
Let’s start with the magnificent Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, which will host its first event since March with the 47th Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior National Volleyball Championships on July 14. The significance is that the venue is among the first in the convention center sector in the country to host an event since the pandemic effectively shut down the industry with the March 11 declaration while games were in play that the National Basketball Association was postponing its season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus.
The convention center game plan for the tournament is thorough, as it should be for an event taking place over 12 days and occupying almost one million square feet.
Among the key points as presented by venue Executive Director Mark Tester to the Orange County Economic Recovery Task Force.
* Teams arrive in three waves with no spectators.
* Courts will employ physical distancing and staggered start times, with dedicated entrances and exits throughout the building and temperature checks at certain entries.
OCCC expects its Global Biorisk Advisory Council Star (GBAC) accreditation by July 14. GBAC (see other story in Front Row News) involves meeting detailed guidelines and performance criteria on sanitation, disinfection and infectious disease prevention best practices. The advisory council’s parent organization is ISSA, known until 2005 as the International Sanitary Supply Association.
Elsewhere, the PBR (Professional Bull Riders) has announced a new competition that will begin in June and culminate in a championship event with fans in attendance at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in July.
The “PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge” competition will feature 48 professional bull riders split into 12 teams and two divisions. Teams will face off until two finalists remain, with the finals slated for July 10-12.
The first four weekends of the team challenge in Las Vegas will be closed to the public (June 5-28), but the championship weekend will be a ticketed event that is open to spectators.
This will be the first PBR event that is open to fans since early March and likely one of the first national events to feature spectators since the COVID-19 crisis began.
Brian Haenchen of the Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER noted that the venue will be “open to fans (for the first time) since early March and likely one of the first national events to feature spectators since the COVID-19 crisis began.”
ASM Global, which manages the Denny Sanford Premier Center, will activate its Venue Shield, an “advanced environmental hygiene protocol that reduces physical touch points, increases venue sanitization and cleanliness, and provides various health monitoring guidelines and services.”
Among the guidelines for the PBR include:
* Tickets will be “for only approximately 35% of the capacity for PBR events at the arena.”
* Seating that separates fans with a “minimum four- to six-foot buffer between ticketed seats and minimizes the potential for crossover for fans entering and exiting their seats.”
* Medical testing and screening for “all staff as they enter the venue,” as well as “complimentary facial coverings for fans.”
* More efficient “’top to bottom’ exit following the event to reduce aisle, hallway and exit congregation.”
Finally, have you heard that the NBA is inching closer to resuming that end-of-regular-season and playoffs that shut down on March 11?
The NBA’s Board of Governors is set to approve a restart to its season that would include 22 teams playing at Disney World in Orlando. The league is targeting a July 31 date to start the tournament. The league’s safety protocols will include daily testing for coronavirus in addition to limiting contact between players and Disney staff.
Meanwhile, Major League Soccer (MLS) is moving forward with a season restart in Orlando as the players union recently approved the plan. The players also agreed to a proposal that cut salaries for this season while also extending the collective bargaining agreement through 2025. MLS Commissioner Don Garber said the league will take a $1 billion revenue hit because of the coronavirus hiatus.
As for Major League Baseball, um, let’s not talk about that right now. We will get back to you if and when the MLBPA union and owners can come to some sort of agreement for teams to begin and play some type of 2020 season.
All in all, let’s give thanks as our venues begin the crawl to welcoming guests. Please share with us your venue or others you know with definitive opening dates so we can be the bearers of some good news in these very trying and challenging times.
By Jon Adkins
Following the recent debut of its GBAC STAR™ facility accreditation program, the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, announced that additional organizations have committed to accredit their facilities. GBAC STAR is designed for any size facility—including schools, offices, hotels, airports, assisted care facilities, stadiums and other public venues—to establish a comprehensive system of cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention.
Recently committed facilities include:
• Lincoln Financial Field, home to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles
• Staples Center in Los Angeles, home to the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks
• Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
• Georgia World Congress Center Authority: Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta and Savannah Convention Center
• New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center
• San Diego Convention Center
• Christ Fellowship Church and its locations throughout South Florida
• The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd., which represents more than 400 hotels in over 80 countries.
In addition to these large-scale facilities, small businesses like Puffy’s Tavern in New York City and La Coutoure Salon in Palos Park, Ill., have committed to pursue accreditation for their facilities, illustrating the broad appeal of GBAC STAR in the marketplace. GBAC STAR also has garnered additional support from leading industry organizations, including:
• Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO) and its more than 195 members that produce over 3,500 events globally
• Freeman + Go LIVE Together, a coalition of leaders from the live events industry that represent more than 4,000 companies with U.S. operations and 112 other countries
• The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS), a nonprofit that extends to 30-plus countries and advances innovations, ideas and processes in global health
• Unique Venues and its 1,100 members throughout the United States and Canada.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the response that the GBAC STAR program has received and are excited to welcome a new group of dedicated participants,” said GBAC Executive Director Patricia Olinger. “With more and more organizations committing to follow the GBAC STAR framework, we can create a world that values cleanliness and implements it to the highest degree.”
The industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation, GBAC STAR helps organizations establish protocols and procedures, offers expert-led training and assesses a facility’s preparedness for biorisk situations. The program ensures facilities use best practices to limit future outbreaks, empowers cleaning staff to do their jobs safety and effectively and gives customers greater peace of mind.
“Now is the time for businesses of every size to be transparent about the measures they’re taking to protect customers and employees, including proper cleaning and disinfection,” said ISSA Executive Director John Barrett. “GBAC STAR program participants demonstrate their commitment to going the extra mile by implementing prevention and response best practices that support health and safety.”
“Since the onset of this pandemic we have been committed to ensuring our facilities are safe for the return of our customers, show attendees, and team members,” said Frank Poe, Executive Director, Georgia World Congress Center Authority. “Working with GBAC to achieve GBAC STAR accreditation will ensure the highest cleaning and disinfection standards are being implemented at the Georgia World Congress Center and Savannah Convention Center. We would expect nothing less of ourselves and for our facilities.”
Facilities that previously announced they are pursuing GBAC STAR accreditation include: Hard Rock Stadium in Miami; Hyatt Hotels & Resorts; VisitDallas, the Dallas Tourism & Public Improvement District and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center Dallas; McCormick Place in Chicago; the Las Vegas Convention Center; and Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group.
“When our fans, players and staff are able to return to Hard Rock Stadium, we want them to have peace of mind that we’re doing everything we can to create the safest and healthiest environment possible,” said Tom Garfinkel, Vice Chairman and CEO of the Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium. “We didn’t want to create our own standard, we wanted to be accountable to the most credible third-party standard that exists. Working with GBAC ensures compliance with critical guidelines for the highest standard of cleanliness and it is our hope that other venues will follow suit as we navigate through these unprecedented times.”
Additional industry groups that previously announced their support of GBAC STAR with their constituents include: International Association of Venue Managers; International Facility Management Association; the Global Market Development Center; Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association; Informa Markets; International Association of Exhibitions and Events; Professional Beauty Association; Media Edge Communications; and Trade Show Executive Media.
To learn more, watch GBAC’s video here.
For accreditation criteria and facility applications, visit www.gbac.org.
Jon Adkins is Vice President of Marketing for ISSA, The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.
June 4, 2020
The Honorable Jerome Powell
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street & Constitution Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20551
The Honorable Steven T. Mnuchin
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20220
Dear Chairman Powell and Secretary Mnuchin:
On behalf of the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) membership, I write to ask for your leadership in helping our members obtain much needed financial assistance during this national crisis for the public assembly venues at which they work. Public assembly venues exist in every community in the United States. IAVM members are the front-line staff at public assembly venues, including arenas, stadiums, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, convention centers, universities, fairgrounds, amphitheaters, etc., which serve as the bedrock of economic activity in both large and small towns across America. From barbershops to local restaurants and hotels, public venues are responsible for helping drive revenues to independent locally owned businesses. Other local businesses and individual staff work exclusively in presenting live events and they too, have been financially damaged with the lack of events to support. This multiplier effect could be the determining factor between a struggling and a thriving community-based business district, in a post-pandemic era.
Currently, the majority of the venues described above are not eligible for the PPP program or the Main Street Lending Program, due to their status as not for profit quasi-governmental entities.
The PPP program currently excludes non-profits that are publicly created. Over 72% of IAVM’s members work at venues that, although established by a political subdivision of a state or local government, fund their operations primarily through event revenues, just like privately-owned venues. They receive little to no funding from government, and because these venues are not included in state and local budgets, they will not receive federal COVID-19 relief funds designated for state and local governments.
We understand that the Federal Reserve is currently considering making changes to the Main Street Lending Program, to allow not-for-profit organizations to qualify for certain program loans. We are in full support of such efforts and ask that any newly adopted changes in the Main Street Lending eligibility requirements extend to public assembly venues established by state and local governments.
The significant contributions of public assembly venues to our local economies should not be overlooked during the current time of crisis, nor should their eligibility to qualify for a loan under PPP or a newly revised Main Street Lending Program rest solely on the question of whether they are public versus private not-for-profit organizations.
We respectfully ask for your leadership and support in assuring that public assembly venues are included in the Administration’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
Thank you in advance for considering this request.
Brad Mayne, CVE
President and CEO
By Randy Garner
The Palm Springs Convention Center has produced an informative health and safety video to assist event planners and exhibitors as they prepare for the time approval is received to open. The educational video shows how clients and guests will be welcomed to the Convention Center, how room set-ups will be modified, and options for different size meeting breakouts including classroom and theater seating.
Other elements of the video include banquet seating along with food and beverage changes made by Savoury’s, the Palm Springs Convention Center’s exclusive caterer. Details of signage, hand sanitizing stations, sneeze shields, floor stickers, use of rope and stanchions for flow control, and cleaning procedures are also included. View the video at www.PalmSpringsCC.com
“I am very proud how our leadership team came together and are one of the first in the industry to develop a comprehensive health and safety strategy to successfully open the Palm Springs Convention Center when the time is right,” said Rob Hampton, General Manager of the Palm Springs Convention Center and Bureau of Tourism. “We have been busy working with our valued customers to move and modify meetings and events while assisting with implementing the necessary changes that will be required for our modified opening.”
As part of the new safety program, the Palm Springs Convention Center is implementing a “Palm Springs Health & Safety Promise.” This best-in-class program provides the highest levels of cleanliness and safety, while inspiring consumer confidence, all in partnership with leading medical professionals, industry experts, and public health officials. At the very heart of this effort is a focus on making guests and employees safe and comfortable in a welcoming environment. It provides the most advanced hygienic safeguards to serve clients, guests, staff, teams, and all other visitors.
Randy Garner is Public Relations Manager for Visit Palm Springs.
By R.V. Baugus
For years hockey has kept fans in a safe place from flying pucks and flying players over the rink through the use of plexiglass. Also gives those cross-checking hits a more violent thud of a player into the plexiglass and of course fans love to bang on the glass to heckle the opposition.
All that comes to mind as I sat this past Monday night glued to the latest installment of World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Monday Night Raw, which since the pandemic started and caused live events to shut down has still broadcast live from the company’s Performance Training Center in Orlando without fans.
Now, as you may suspect, professional wrestling has some of the most, um, vociferous fans there are. Everyone has their own favorite story about the elderly little grandmother seated in the first row berating the wrestling villain, right?
Well, eerie goes to another level watching a couple of guys grapple inside the squared circle with only a referee officiating the melee and no fans in the venue. You can literally hear the ref admonishing the wrestlers for those most illicit ring tactics as well as the trash-talking going on between the competitors.
That had been the norm for a few weeks until Monday night’s show had a handful of WWE’s “NXT” development wrestling stable present surrounding the ring behind barricades encircled by plexiglass. The same glass was on either side of the wrestlers’ entrance ramp as well.
Now, it appears that the plexiglass might be a solution for WWE going forward when fans are allowed to return ringside. If you watch any of WWE’s sports entertainment at all, you know that quite a bit of the action takes place outside the ring and around the ring perimeter. Heck, many a confrontation even goes up and down the aisles. If we are talking droplets of sweat and their impact upon COVID-19, it is easy to see wrestling as one of those places producing the most sweat, not to mention some occasional blood.
If in fact plexiglass is used in the future, it will serve in a powerful way to protect wrestlers and fans during entrances and matches.
As for the NXT wrestlers on hand, they stood in respective locations adhering for the most part to social distancing. Indeed, many a scenario needs to be worked out before arenas and stadiums resume sports and entertainment, but WWE might have found a solution that hockey has used for a long time.
By the way, ref, how can you possibly count to three when his foot was clearly on the rope?
Photo from wwe.com