With the 2020-2021 NBA season set to start December 22, teams are prepping their arena COVID-19 mitigation plans. Here’s what the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chesapeake Arena officials have in the works.
If you’ve been following our coverage of arena COVID-19 mitigation plans, you know that no matter the venue–arena, ballpark, stadium–the mitigation plans follow the same pattern: spread fans out across entries to eliminates groups of people queuing up to enter a venue, require the use of masks in concourses and group spaces, install plexiglass guards at concession areas, implement contactless concessions and mobile ticketing, and limit capacity to meet local regulations. These local regulations are what will determine capacity across the NBA and may end up dramatically impacting the season.
- Chesapeake Arena has upgraded its HVAC system to provide a higher quality of filtered air to meet ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Merv13 standards.
- Electrostatic sprayers will also be used to evenly disperse disinfectants across surfaces quickly and evenly.
- Common spaces will be subject to reduced capacity in order to best serve physical-distancing protocols, such as elevators, first aid rooms and restrooms.
- Additional staff will be dedicated to restrooms and other high-traffic areas, and the arena seating bowl will be fully disinfected prior to fan arrival.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the arena.
- Face masks will be required of guests and staff to enter the venue and should be worn at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This policy will be strictly monitored.
- Reduced seating capacity for all arena events, including Thunder games, allowing for proper and safe six-foot distance between groups of guests.
- Reduced capacity within arena bars and restaurants, with tables set six feet apart.
- Floor markers will be placed in all areas to help promote physical distancing of at least six feet.
- Full contactless mobile ticketing will be implemented for guests to use self-serve ticket scanners at all arena entrances, reducing points of contact with staff. Mobile tickets for Thunder games can be seamlessly accessed or transferred via the Thunder App or okcthunder.com
- Contactless scanners will be installed at all concession and merchandise locations to offer the ability to use credits cards without physically exchanging the card with staff. This technology has been put in place in an effort to transition to a fully cashless environment throughout the arena.
- Additional contactless payment options (Apple Pay, Google Wallet) will be available at every point of purchase.
- In preparation for event days, additional cleaning staff will available to facilitate increased cleaning and sanitization, with a focus on high-touch areas.
- A new mobile food and beverage ordering system, via the Thunder App, will allow ordering and paying via mobile phone and offering express pickup locations in an effort to maximize physical distancing in concessions lines.
- Plexiglass barriers will be installed at all concession stands to reduce contact between guests and employees.
- All Chesapeake Arena staff will undergo additional health and safety training prior to the NBA season. Staff will also be subject to temperature checks and will wear appropriate PPE such as face masks, gloves and goggles as needed during games and events.
Still to come: how many fans will be attending game. Chesapeake Arena will definitely be operating with a reduced seating capacity; that capacity remains to be seen.
As noted, much of this should be familiar. Another reason why this should be familiar: Chesapeake Arena is an ASM Global-managed facility, and many of the safeguards derive from the ASM Global VenueShield program.