Expect Another Year Before Sports, Entertainment Venues Reopen


The spread of the coronavirus has led to a halt of Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association, and raised questions about whether the 2020 National Football League season will take place this fall.

CNBC reported health experts and government officials say sports events probably won’t happen until next year at the earliest.

The cable news network reported that while leagues devise plans to play games without fans and some governors consider opening venues, health experts say gatherings without strict social distancing shouldn’t come back until at least 2021.

Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes, told the network the return of big events is not a priority.

“Having gone to those events, I don’t know you’d keep people from exposing the virus to one another, and I don’t know how you could contact-trace there without a lot of intrusion,” Bach told the news service.

Dr. Dhruv Khullar at New York-Presbyterian Hospital said only a vaccine, ubiquitous testing or vastly improved treatment will accelerate the pace of large gatherings without strict social distancing.

“The reality is in the hospital we see the real devastating effects of moving too quickly and not adhering to social distancing practices,” Khullar said.

On what might need to open for sports to commence, PYMNTS reported stadium games will not be the same for some time.

Gil Fried, professor and chair at the University of New Haven’s sports management program, told PYMNTS about one of the COVID-19 rules: “It’s not, you might need to have a seat on either side of you that’s free. It might be two seats on either side – and then one in front, one behind.” 

While the NFL has yet to decide the fate of its 2020 season, the league has a plan for ticket refunds.

In a memo obtained by CNBC, Commissioner Roger Goodell said teams will have a policy to refund fans for tickets if a game is cancelled or played to an empty stadium. Fans can opt for a cash refund or get another ticket for a later game.

PYMNTS founder Karen Webster wrote last week the challenge of jumpstarting the economy after nearly two months of a near-total shutdown is similar to the one faced by an entrepreneur with a platform business they want to ignite and scale. It will take identifying stakeholders, understanding their interdependencies and devising a strategy to build critical mass on all sides while aligning supply with demand, she wrote.