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COVID-19 venue news: Toronto Wolfpack, FC Groningen and more

Toronto Wolfpack

Super League club Toronto Wolfpack has claimed a first for world sport through an agreement with TraceSafe Technologies, whose tracking products and services will be used to safely reopen the team’s Lamport Stadium.

TraceSafe has an exclusive contract for the 2020 and 2021 Super League seasons to supply wearable tracing products for all staff and fans attending home games at Lamport Stadium.

TraceSafe is a subsidiary of Blockchain Holdings, which is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. Its partnership with the Wolfpack will help the rugby league club ensure Lamport Stadium is safe to host training and behind-closed-doors games, and enable social distancing when fans are allowed back into stadia.

The Wolfpack said it is the first professional sports team in the world to embrace wearable tracking products and services for staff and fans. The team is set to submit its reopening plans to the City of Toronto Department of Parks, Forestry & Recreation to comply with the necessary regulations required by Ontario Law incorporating the wearing of TraceSafe products.

TraceSafe’s iMSafe wristbands are privacy-protected to ensure no personal information is stored on the devices. The wristbands act as two-way radios that enable public health functions such as contact-tracing and social-distancing to be applied at large-scale events at venues such as Lamport Stadium.

The technology also facilitates other location-based services such as guidance to seating areas, access control and loyalty programmes to be personalised and location-aware. Fans will not be required to use their phones to use the wristbands.

The wristbands are able to transmit and receive signals from each other so that nearby contacts can be logged and data is retrieved via infrastructure local to stadia. The data can then be used for contact-tracing if required, to ensure the health and safety of fans at stadia.

Data can be automatically deleted after a predetermined time, for example 14 days after each match. The Wolfpack said the costs of wristbands and system operations should be a “very small percentage” of the season ticket price.

Wolfpack chairman and chief executive Robert Hunter said: “TraceSafe products and software will greatly improve our reopening operating procedures for Lamport Stadium by adding a verifiable, easy to use and affordable method to assist with social distancing. It is important that as we restart our lives, this technology aids in reopening stadiums, avoiding tracking apps loaded onto our mobile phones.”

The Super League season has been suspended since March 15 following the COVID-19 outbreak. The league is predominantly made up of English teams but also features the Wolfpack and French outfit Catalans.

FC Groningen

Dutch Eredivisie football club FC Groningen has announced plans to open up its Hitachi Capital Mobility Stadion to fans later this week as part of a ‘Snack Tribune’ initiative.

The catering units on the north side of the stadium will be set up as cafeterias from Thursday, and fans will be invited to buy snacks and drinks which can be consumed in the stands. FC Groningen will show historic moments from the club’s history on the stadium’s big screen for fans to enjoy.

Dedicated entrances and exits will be set up and seats will be set up so social distancing measures are adhered to.

The ‘Snack Tribune’ will be open from 4pm-8pm from Thursday to Sunday. Beer will also be sold, while an ice cream cart will be set up.

The initiative will look to keep fans engaged after it was announced in April that the Eredivisie season would not be completed due to COVID-19.

Vitória de Guimarães

Portuguese Primeira Liga football club Vitória de Guimarães is encouraging fans to send photos of themselves which can be used to fill its stadium when matches return behind closed doors.

Fans have been invited to send their picture on a white background and pay €5 to have the image placed in one of the 30,000 seats at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques on match days.

The initiative has been dubbed ‘O lugar que é teu’, which translates as ‘The place is yours’.

The Primeira Liga will resume tomorrow (Wednesday), with Vitória due to host Sporting Lisbon on Thursday. The club had an average attendance of 16,910 this season before the league was suspended.

Image: Toronto Wolfpack