The Impact of COVID-19 on Live Sports

It's been a little over a year since COVID-19 was first detected in the United States. The sports and event industry continues to adapt and reflect the needs of its fans and employees in a post-pandemic world.

Super Bowl 2020 vs. 2021Super Bowl 2020 (Hard Rock Stadium) vs. Super Bowl 2021 (Raymond James Stadium). The difference one year can make!

In the above pictures of Super Bowl 54 you can see a packed stadium at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida. Meanwhile, one year later at Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Florida you can see where more than half of the seats were filled with cardboard cutouts.

COVID-19 had impacted every sporting event this year

COVD-19 has impacted the sports industry in ways we never could have imagined.

  • The Tokyo Olympics were postponed
  • The NBA played an entire season in a bubble
  • Most of the NFL season was played with little or no fans
  • MLB was a shortened season with almost no fans at all
  • The NHL played a shortened season with no fans
  • The Masters was held with no fans in November of 2020

Almost every sports venue across the world has either cancelled, postponed or held their events over the past year in a different way, whether that means limited fans or no fans at all.  The International Association of Venue Managers, IAVM, recently surveyed their members and found that 48% of venues are currently open for events. 

In anticipation of allowing fans back in, venues have been understanding new initiatives including, but not limited to COVID-19 screenings, contact tracing, increased air circulation, heat tracing, cashless payments, and a host of new protocols for stadiums and event centers.

Stadium venue staffing is in flux

Another crushing blow to the event industry was the massive layoffs and furloughs that nearly every company was forced to do in 2020 based on the loss of revenues detailed in this article. ESPN.com shared this article showing how so many stadium workers were sadly left without work and support during this pandemic. 

The harsh reality as these venues begin to rehire is that many of their former loyal employees will have moved on to other opportunities. So as events allow fans again, venues will have to invest in rebuilding its recruiting pipeline and community partnerships, with strict health safety protocols in place.

We predict that stadiums and event venues will need to rely on flexible staffing options like Instawork to help them meet the ever changing needs as we recover from this pandemic.

There’s great momentum

One thing that’s for sure is that people want to get back to seeing live sports! With the increasing success of COVID-19 vaccines, it’s only a matter of time before we get to start enjoying a hot dog and a beer at our local stadiums. Many of us in the industry are highly encouraged having just watched a successful Super Bowl with 25,000 fans in Tampa Florida on February 7th, 2021. Instawork is proud to have supported this event with several Food & Beverage Professionals!

As venues begin to prepare for fans again, Instawork remains the leader in flexible staffing options allowing businesses to quickly and effectively scale up and down their staffing levels. Instawork prides itself on its quality, speed and convenience. With over 600,000 Instawork Professionals on board across more than 25 cities nationwide, there’s no event too big or too small.

Mike Tully is Director of Strategic Partnerships for Instawork. He has spent the past 25 years leading the sales and marketing efforts for global food service firms in the sports and entertainment industry.

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