By R.V. Baugus
Do you remember where you were when you found out the rapidly rising death toll in China due to the COVID-19 coronavirus? How about when you heard that the United States had registered its first positive coronavirus test? What about when you got word about the first death stateside? When the NBA suspended its season even as games were being played? When your state went into a lockdown?
We don’t tend to forget milestone dates, or at the least dates that slap us upside the head with some news that we never would come in our lifetime. But here we are, most of us at home, riding out one of the most vicious pandemic storms to ever come our way, one with no available vaccine, and one that does not discriminate whom it infects.
Many of the fortunate still work from home, but sadly millions of others in industries from A through Z find themselves furloughed or fully unemployed, victims of a virus that no one can see, an invisible plague seemingly without a true finish line.
It’s amazing what our mind recalls. I know where I was on Tuesday, September 13, 2005. It was two weeks after Hurricane Katrina tore through New Orleans and I was driving from Dallas to Lafayette, Louisiana, to visit Greg Davis at the Cajundome, where his University of Louisiana-Lafayette arena was housing guests (in Greg’s kind words) who had managed to leave New Orleans by bus.
Greg took me on a tour of the arena with some 3,5000 guests in place, down from a high of about 7,000. It was surreal to see concession stands that normally hawked beverages, hot dogs, and popcorns, now taped over and giving formula, diapers, and many other essentials to guests. Temporary showers were constructed just outside the arena. It was the most distant feeling from a basketball game or a concert that you could imagine.
Today, many of our members have stepped up to make their venues available for help in the battle against the deadly coronavirus. We do our best to keep up with venues who are doing their part and to share, but it is obviously always going to be an incomplete list. This is good in the sense it shows our industry for what it is — caring, available, ready to help at a moment’s notice.
We still don’t know when those symphonies, trade shows, concerts, and sports will return to our venues. We do know that they will one day, and when that day arrives, it will be the perfect marriage of venue managers and guests once again seeing each other in an environment where happiness rules the day.