Sports venue expert discusses 2020 MLB season


(WEHT) — Coronavirus has disrupted many aspects of our daily lives and that includes sports. Major League Baseball has pushed back its opening day, with plans to now hold a shorter season starting in July. The league plans to keep players and essential staff safe through a testing program.

Eyewitness News Brandon Bartlett spoke with Mark Herrera with the International Association of Venue Managers.


Brandon Bartlett: Mark, thank you so much for joining us tonight. You have been working closely with the CDC on plans to safely reopen venues. Where do things stand right now as far as getting those venues reopened?

Mark Herrera: First of all, thank you, Brandon for having me. And I apologize because I’m in transit. Typically I wouldn’t dress like this, but to answer your question. First of all, I’d like to begin by kind of setting the stage, setting the tone for this interview. The International Association of Venue Managers first of all, having significant influence in a global industry, we have a civic duty to ensure that we provide safe, secure and healthy environments within all public facilities where crowds assemble and gather. And so we have been working collectively with all the venue types and other organizations and associations in their respective leadership to include open and close their venues, the federal government, which is inclusive of CDC, and also the Infectious Disease Society of America, to gather data, polling and research that allows the industry to move towards recovery and identifying what that new norm is actually going to look like. So we’ve been working collectively to do that. What’s it gonna look like? Is, is the big question. And again, there’s so many variables and there’s so many things are unknown. But that’s the direction we’re heading.

BB: Well, what can you tell us? What will that new norm look like?

MH: First of all, you have to know and understand that events are not we’re not focused on the events being date driven more so than data driven. So what will they look like? So when you take a look, probably your top the top three things that we can, that we can really look at is first of all, number one What are the top line safety considerations to allow healthy people to enjoy the facility, the event and encourage them to attend is obviously the use of face coverings. That right now, we don’t know what we don’t know, in regards to what’s out there, as the scientists and physicians are working to try to figure it out. But we do know that to protect people face coverings right now has been definitely implemented at the start and the onset of of any type of an event. The other is providing the means to wash and sanitize your hands frequently. I never thought we’d come to the point where we’d have to tell people to wash their hands, but it’s the signage and the reminder that that is how this communicable disease spreads. So that is critical that is very important. So having sanitizing stations within the actual facility within so many feet based on what, what we’re identifying through scientists and physicians that are part of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, that is what we’re basing the location of the sanitizing units for the all of the events. And then third is crowd density, we know that crowd density is going to be a very important element to consider as we go into the recovery phase of this. We know that six feet right now is the recommended distance. So when you figure out your total square footage, you have to know that if I have square footage of x, I have to know that six my total population or total occupancy is going to be factored in within that six foot distance. So those are the things that we’re looking at right now. Those are the top three things that Ww’re focused on. But the industry in itself, the way we’re working the industry is it’s a very methodical approach to recovery, because the number one thing is the health and well being of all of those that are attending events, including the employees. So we’re not going to circumvent the governmental guidance.

BB: We talked about fans, when do you think fans will be allowed back into stadiums?

MH: Right now the talk is they’re gonna phase this in. I work with closely with a lot of the the representatives from the sporting facilities from the leagues. They’re looking at, obviously, Major League Baseball, and of course, your NFL. These events are going to are going to kick off. Now, when they do, again, it’s all going to be based on what we know at the time in regards to how deadly the exposure or has there been a tremendous increase in the exposure when these events kick off. Right now the talk is phasing everything in so phasing in the players, having the players most likely be tested, phasing them in to have potentially events without fans, ultimately phasing in the fans within so many within a percentage of those that can attend 20 25%. So they’re looking at phasing everything in to where we can ultimately, at some point time have the capacity that we that we’ve had in the past.

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