ATLANTA — A huge part of American life - enjoying sports - has been on pause for nearly 70 days, but the return to playing them, logistically, will be difficult.
“The minute sports comes back, it will feel like my life is getting normal again,” said AMB Group President and CEO Steve Cannon.
That is the exact sentiment many are feeling. But while leagues and teams are working to get back to work, Cannon said there's still a lot of complex logistics to work out.
“Do we put every other seat? Do we use every other row? How do you socially distance while moving to your food and beverage experience?” Cannon asked.
While Mercedes-Benz Stadium waits for guidance from league officials, Cannon said they are exploring every possible scenario.
“How do we operate in a reduced stadium environment with social distancing? We’re putting all of our energy against that and then the next scenario - which we think could be a likely scenario - would be if fans aren’t allowed in our building, but we can still have a broadcast,” Cannon explained.
The stadium is already cashless and has a clear bag policy in place, but if a return to sports with fans is possible, Cannon said he sees a no-bag policy being implemented.
One of the toughest things to navigate, he admitted, is how concessions will operate in the future, should fans be allowed into the stadium.
“The future of concessions will be order-pickup," he predicted. "I can sit in my seat. I can place my order through the Atlanta Falcons app or the Atlanta United app and then I get a text to come (and) pick it up.”
While there are still so many logistics to work out before we see sports returning, one thing to remember is that the fan experience moving forward will be altered.
“It will definitely alter the fan experience in the same way that air travel was altered after 9/11," Cannon said. "In the beginning, it will feel foreign and maybe uncomfortable. As long as they know that we are doing our best to create the safest and most secure environment, so that they can safely enjoy a sporting event, then I think they will forgive some of the inconveniences that will be a part of the future 'new normal.'”
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