COVID-19 venue news: Allianz Parque, NRG Stadium and more

Allianz Parque

Allianz Parque, the home of Campeonato Brasileiro Série A football club Palmeiras, has sought to innovate during COVID-19 by announcing that it intends to launch a drive-in cinema at the stadium.

With a start date for the 2020 Série A season remaining unclear, and cinemas, theatres and concert halls still closed in Brazil, Allianz Parque said Arena Sessions will aim to provide content such as films, shows and lectures.

Although the Sao Paulo stadium has yet to gain a licence to operate in this format, Allianz Parque said it expects to launch Arena Sessions later this month or in June. With a planned capacity of 300 vehicles per session, tickets will range in price from R$95 (£14/€16/$17) to R$150 per vehicle, depending on the attraction on offer.

Director of marketing and innovation at Allianz Parque, Márcio Flores, said: “We had the idea when we realised that people have been out in their cars or for a walk around the city without a defined destination. It will be unforgettable to enter the stadium by car with the family and participate in an event in this format.”

In addition to the stadium’s big screens, the open air cinema will feature a super high definition LED screen. The sessions will also have food services that can be requested from inside the vehicle. Food will be delivered to the car window, avoiding any kind of contact.

Flores added: “Joy and fun are the foundation of Allianz Parque. At this moment, we are totally dedicated to finding safe ways to bring entertainment to the population and, at the same time, raise funds for projects that support the most impacted people in this period of isolation.”

In February, Allianz Parque launched a new venture designed to offer exclusive experiences and networking opportunities to its executive box owners. Membership of ‘Club 160’ is reserved exclusively for Palmeiras’ sponsors and executive box holders at the 43,700-capacity stadium.

NRG Stadium

NFL American football franchise the Houston Texans is reportedly seeking to set a first by hiring a full-time facility hygiene coordinator to oversee working conditions at NRG Stadium.

Citing a league source, the Houston Chronicle newspaper said the Texans are seeking to be proactive amid COVID-19 by hiring someone to take charge over protecting and providing sanitary conditions at the 72,220-capacity stadium.

The Texans are understood to be the first professional sports team to explore hiring someone to fill such a specialised position, which is intended to supervise custodial staff provided by food service and facilities provider Aramark.

NRG Stadium is owned by Harris County meaning that the hygiene coordinator would work across all events at the multi-use venue. Along with Texans games, NRG Stadium has hosted the Texas Bowl NCAA college football game since 2006 and the annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, believed to be the largest event of its type, since 2003.

Wells Fargo Center

The parking lots at Wells Fargo Center, home of NBA basketball team the Philadelphia 76ers and NHL ice hockey club the Philadelphia Flyers, have been repurposed as a storage site for Enterprise rental vehicles during COVID-19.

The arena last hosted a game on March 11, but its parking lots are currently filled with thousands of cars after Enterprise struggled to house vehicles normally used at Philadelphia International Airport.

With air travel having been severely curtailed during the pandemic, Enterprise, a corporate partner of Wells Fargo Center and the Flyers, approached the arena’s owner, Comcast Spectacor, to see if it could help.

Phil Weinberg, executive vice-president and general counsel for Comcast Spectacor, told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper: “They approached us shortly after the stay-at-home orders became effective and asked if we could assist them in parking their cars, which are clearly not in service right now.”

Weinberg said Enterprise is not being charged for parking around 2,200 of its vehicles on site, with the cars to depart whenever the arena recommences operations.

McDonald Jones Stadium

A drive-through clinic is set to open at McDonald Jones Stadium, designed to sweep up any cases of COVID-19 still present in the Hunter New England region of Australia.

The facility at the home of NRL rugby league team Newcastle Knights and A-League football club Newcastle Jets will operate from Friday through to May 17, with the capacity to swab up to 900 people per day.

Hunter New England public health physician, Dr David Durrheim, told the Newcastle Herald newspaper: “It will still be important to observe physical distancing and not visit even if you are slightly unwell, but it may put some peoples’ mind at ease that the new symptoms are not COVID-19. Beating COVID-19 is a team sport and we’re asking all locals to play their part.”

Anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever, sore throat, cough or shortness of breath, are being urged to get tested. As of yesterday (Tuesday), 28,769 people across Hunter New England have been tested for COVID-19, with 0.96% of tests returning positive.