A study by the management consultancy Deloitte found that fans will only visit a stadium they feel is safe, comfortable and clean.1 And that was before COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, fan expectations for health and safety have only risen—requiring stadium management to take its hygiene game to the next level.
Stadium events in the US, particularly pro sports, made a cautious return after the first wave of COVID-19. Initially, cardboard cutouts took the place of real fans. The World Series in October was held in Arlington, Texas with real fans, but in greatly reduced numbers to allow for social distancing.2 By late fall, with the pandemic entering a second surge, stadium events faced an uncertain future again. Vaccines provided hope, but sufficient distribution to the general population wasn’t projected until the spring or summer of 2021.3
The following tips can help stadium management meet the higher expectations of fans—regardless of when or how many return to the seats.
Three ways to improve stadium hygiene when fans come back
1. Make hand hygiene a part of the fan experience
A COVID-related survey by the Aspire Group revealed that most fans expect masks to be worn and seating to be socially distanced. However, the highest expectations were around hygiene. 79% of respondents expect increased overall venue sanitation, while 77% expect ample hand sanitizer stations. 4
Heightened expectations create a need to reassure fans and an opportunity to delight them by making hand sanitizing easy and fun. The reassurance starts with wall-mounted and free-standing hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere—not just in restrooms. Dispensers for disinfectant wipes placed at each entrance to the stands makes it convenient for fans to wipe down seats.
To go beyond the expected, place upbeat reminders everywhere. For example, create custom print napkins for every concession stand, encouraging people to wash or sanitize their hands throughout the event. Even use in-stadium video boards and announcers to engage the crowd: “If you’ve used hand sanitizer since you got here, wave your hands for the win!”
2. Use posters to promote your program for stadium hygiene
Research shows that 80% of people say hand hygiene signage makes them feel more confident about a facility’s cleanliness.5 One of the easiest and most visible formats for boosting that confidence is through simple, ever-present posters throughout your stadium. Inform, instruct, encourage and most important, reassure.
3. Keep cleanliness efforts consistent
Demonstrating to fans that you’ve increased venue hygiene requires more than just greeting them with a sparkling clean facility. It also means maintaining that environment throughout the fan experience. This requires sufficient staff to keep the surroundings clean during events. However, new technologies can help reduce the number of workers required.
For example, consistently encouraging fans to wash their hands effectively and frequently demands that hand soap and paper towels always be available. Data-driven solutions like Tork EasyCubeTM inform your team with real-time supply levels. This can eliminate the frustrating fan experience of empty dispensers and reduce the number of trips (and workers) needed to check supply levels.
Now is the time to prepare for returning fans
Fans want to return to the stands—when it’s safe to do so. With expanded distribution of effective vaccines, many will likely return in 2021. When they arrive at your venue with higher expectations for hand hygiene and stadium cleanliness, ensure you’re prepared to meet those expectations. That starts now.
For additional information, download useful tools to help improve hand hygiene and surface cleaning, a complimentary guide from the global hygiene leaders at Tork.
1 Deloitte: The Stadium Experience
2 Sporting News: Where is the World Series in 2020?
3 The Washington Post: What you need to know about the Moderna and Pfizer coronavirus vaccines
4 Business of College Sports: Fan Attendance: COVID-19 and its Impact
5 Tork: Clean hands are healthy hands