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NFL aims for full stadiums as Chinese theatres begin to reopen

The NFL is aiming to play in front of full stadiums, while an Atom Tickets study found cinema-goers are eager to return, and Chinese performance halls begin to reopen…


The NFL American football league is “planning to have full stadiums” once the season kicks off in September, executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said.

Speaking during a broadcast on Washington Sports Radio 95.9 FM, Vincent said that contingency plans are in place for operating at limited capacity if COVID-19 health and safety measures require such action. However, he insisted that securing the safe presence of fans is still the primary focus.

The NFL remains committed to its plans to play a full season, with no current guidelines in place for opening stadiums to the public.

Vincent said: “We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise. Now, remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about September, August, September. There’s a lot that can happen here. So, we’re planning for full stadiums.

“We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums, three-quarters…. we’re planning for all of these different scenarios. But first and foremost, we’re making every effort, working with the medical community. If we can have those stadiums with all people until they tell us otherwise when that time comes, that’s our plan. That’s our plan of action.”

The comments were made as CNBC reported that demand for NFL tickets is up by 243 per cent compared with last year’s first day of sales.

Earlier this week, the Pittsburgh Steelers reduced its individual ticket supply in preparation for possible social distancing scenarios. The team placed 50 per cent of its individual tickets on sale for the 2020 season via Ticketmaster on Friday.

Atom Tickets study

Almost 60 per cent of movie-goers said they would return to the cinema within a month of the venues reopening, according to a new study by industry ticketing firm Atom Tickets.

The survey of 1,500 people found that an additional 18 per cent of people said they would return within two months, while 21 per cent wanted to wait until a vaccine was secured before visiting the venues.

The company also discovered that 42 per cent of people reported spaced seating as the most important measure cinemas could take to encourage their return.

In addition, 88 per cent of movie-goers said they would prefer to purchase digital tickets to avoid contact with workers.

“Movie-goers are telling us that they miss the experience of going to the movies and they’re ready to get back, but that the experience needs to look slightly different than before,” said Atom Tickets chairman and co-founder Matthew Bakal.

He added: “We anticipate a rapid acceleration in digital ordering, just as we have seen in other industries, in order to reduce the amount of person-to-person interactions.”

Chinese theatres reopen

Theatres and performance halls across a number of cities in China have reopened this week at limited capacities after having been closed since January due to COVID-19.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s market administration office issued guidelines for the reopening of theatres and other performance venues, indicating audiences should be kept at below 30 per cent of a venue’s capacity.

The guidelines on reopening also indicate that tickets need to be named and controls on entry and exits have been laid out.

Greg Turner, founder and managing director of Shenzen High Performance Event Management, noted that a number of live shows have been held this week as venues have updated their June schedules and event tour plans are being released “almost hourly”.

He added that, as it is still early days, venues are erring on the side of caution with their reopening strategies.

Turner said: “Out of an abundance of caution, some events have actually intentionally undersold their 30 per cent capacity limit. For example, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra held a live show with only 100-person audience in 1,200-seat main hall of the Shanghai Concert Hall. Of course, the performance was also live streamed.

“Some events are exploring a ‘multi-dimensional’ performance, blending traditional offline and digital online elements to adapt their performance for a blended audience.”

Image: Idibri