STATEWIDE — As professional sports organizations look to Florida as a venue for a summertime restart of their schedules, the leaders of the state's sports promotion agencies are preparing to implement health safety restrictions that could become permanent fixtures even after the coronavirus pandemic runs its course.
What You Need To Know
- Pro-sports organizations looking to Florida for summer restart
- Best practices discussed at virtual forum this week
- Strict measures envisioned to prevent COVID-19 infections
In a virtual forum hosted by the Gray Robinson law firm this week, sports promotion directors in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami suggested that best practices developed at fan-less NBA and Major League Soccer tournaments slated to be held at Disney World this summer could eventually become commonplace in packed arenas and stadiums.
"I don't know if anybody has the answer yet, and I think as we reopen, we're going to learn more and more with every event we do," said Tampa Sports Authority President & CEO Eric Hart. "And we'll refine it, just like with 9/11, when we added a significant number of procedures and policies for fan safety, you're going to see a very similar approach."
At the planned NBA tournament-style restart and a similarly-structured 'MLS is Back' tournament, strict measures are envisioned to prevent coronavirus infections. Attendees, including players, coaches, trainers and TV crews, will be subject to a 10-day quarantine if they leave the Disney World 'bubble' and must undergo frequent temperature checks. Non-athletes will also be required to wear face masks.
And when fan-filled matches do return, don't expect them to be packed to capacity. The coronavirus has underscored the challenge of controlling a pandemic in high-density environments.
"Maybe, all of a sudden, you don't have 100,000-seat stadiums full. Maybe you pare that down a bit," said Jose Sotolongo, the director of the sports and entertainment tourism division of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Taken together, the restrictions are the football equivalent of audibles, particularly given the uncertain path of the virus. When life returns to normal, however, the crisis may have rewritten the pro sports playbook.