The future of sport as we know it hinges on getting fans back into stadia. This is especially true in Ireland where the IRFU, FAI and GAA rely to a very high level on the income generated by matchday ticketing and revenue.
Each week we will take a look at developments around the world on where sporting organisations, public health authorities and governments are moving in the return to stadia.
FA CUP FINAL HOSTS 21,000
It was the first major match in Europe to be held with what could be deemed as a ‘proper’ crowd when 21,000 fans walked up Wembley Way on Saturday for the FA Cup Final.
There was enthusiasm about their support that highlighted just how much the fans had been missed over the last 15 months.
All tickets had been distributed in advance and tests were provided to manage the risk of potential spread. The UK is ahead of many in terms of at least a first vaccine, which is a major positive, but the kind of restrictions and management that was in place will be important in terms of reviewing what worked, where the friction points were and more.
Each club had 6,250 fans with the rest made up of local residents, FA stakeholders and stadium guests.
They were all seated in the lower ring of the stadium with the upper reaches decorated with banners representing each of the clubs, the FA Cup itself and the sponsors.
US AUTHORITIES RELAXING RESTRICTIONS
The US Centre for Disease Control has relaxed its advice regarding the wearing of masks in both indoor and outdoor settings for those who have been vaccinated.
In New York, authorities have said that if fans are vaccinated that there is no need for social distancing.
And one step further a number of Baseball teams including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers have announced they will return to unrestricted stadium capacity in the coming weeks.
INDY 500 TO WELCOME 135,000 FANS
It is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and on May 30th the Indy 500 will strike a major note in the return to normal when it hosts 135,000 fans. The full capacity of the track is closer to 400,000 and 170,0000 tickets have already been sold but the limit which is to be allowed far exceeds anything else at a global sports event since the shutters came down in March 2020.
Temperature checks will still be taken and mask-wearing will be required when not eating or drinking.
All tickets will have to be bought in advance.
The venue has been serving as a mass vaccination site and will continue to do so through the rest of the month until a few days before the race begins its own set up.
KATIE MCINTYRE AT SPORT FOR BUSINESS RETURN TO SPORT 2021
On Thursday, April 29th Sport for Business hosted a very timely morning conference on where we are with regard to the return of sport and the return of fans to our sporting stadia.
We brought together sporting bodies and stadium operators, sponsors and agencies to learn from those who are on the sharp edge of reopening society and sport after the pandemic lockdowns.
One of our guest speakers was Katie McIntyre, Founder of Sports venue Business, who brought us around the world highlighting examples of how stadium operators and different jurisdictions were managing the return to sport.
TOKYO TEST EVENTS CONTINUE
The 3×3 Basketball was the latest test event to be held as part of the Ready Steady Tokyo series that should have been used to prepare for an influx of fans to all the venues being used.
Two Japan teams played what amounted to an internal game without any fans in the stadium but it was still hailed a success.
That was despite the session being cut short because of rain.
The event took place, as will the Olympic event, at the Aomi Urban Sports Park which will also host the Sport Climbing event and the Paralympic Five-a-side football.
Sport for Business Partners