We have some more polling about fans will act once arenas reopen after an abatement of the coronavirus pandemic. The bottom line: it will be a challenge to bring them back.
On April 2 we ran a story about fan expectations based on a survey by Performance Reports. According to the study, when respondents were asked if they will attend “Fewer,” “About The Same Number” or “More” events once they are safe to attend, the highest percentage (44 percent) predicted they will attend fewer, while 38 percent reported their attendance won’t be impacted; the remaining 18 percent indicated they will attend more events. In that study, when respondents were asked if they will attend “Fewer,” “About The Same Number” or “More” events once they are safe to attend, the highest percentage (44 percent) predicted they will attend fewer, while 38 percent reported their attendance won’t be impacted; the remaining 18 percent indicated they will attend more events. When they do return, cleanliness will be foremost in their minds. But the study ended with some hope: nearly half of consumers (46 percent) say they will value events more than they used to due to their experience with the pandemic and social distancing, and 53 percent agreed that they will have a pent-up desire to return to the events they loved once the pandemic has passed.
A new study from Seton Hall University showed some higher short-term pessimism with different questions. The big finding: 72 percent of Americans (and 61 percent self-identifying as sports fans) said they would not attend games until a vaccination is developed, with 12 percent saying they would if social distancing could be maintained. Only 13 percent said they would feel safe attending as in the past, and 72 percent say they expect sports to be shut down for the rest of the year. The key here is the development of a vaccination, and that’s one of the great unknowns of the current COVID-19 pandemic: One leading vaccine researcher expects a vaccine by September given the progress made by her team, according to Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University. Other experts warn we could be a year away from a widely available vaccine. And once fans return, we expect to see plenty of changes to venues to address these fears.
One interesting finding in the Seton Hall study: A majority, 76 percent, said they would watch game broadcasts from a venue without fans with the same interest as before, but most fans also expressed a concern about sports proceeding in this manner. You can read the full study here.
As noted, we are months and months away from a potential vaccine, and we’re weeks and weeks away from enough testing kits available in the United States, so there’s a lot of time for fans both to miss live sports and to be wary of a return. Undoubtedly there will be plenty of polling done in coming weeks and months, and we’re hoping there will be follow-ups by these two organizations to see if there will be movement as the battle against the coronavirus pandemic continues.
The article first appeared in the Venues Digest newsletter, focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. It’s free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.
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