COVID-19 venue news: Tottenham Hotspur, NRL, WiZink Center and more

Tottenham Hotspur

English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur has secured a £175m (€195.1m/$221.4m) loan from the Bank of England after conceding that COVID-19 may lead to it registering a revenue loss of more than £200m for the period ending June 2021.

Spurs moved into their new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in April 2019 and along with the impact of staging its remaining 2019-20 Premier League games behind closed doors, the pandemic has also decimated the venue’s wider events calendar.

Guns N’ Roses, Lady Gaga and Capital Summertime Ball concerts were all due to be staged this summer, along with Anthony Joshua’s world title fight with Kubrat Pulev. Looking further ahead, the stadium’s two NFL American football games in the autumn, along with a rugby league Ashes Test between England and Australia, have also been pulled.

Spurs have now announced that Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Ltd (THS) has met the criteria set by the Bank of England for the COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and has secured £175m through this facility.

The CCFF is designed to provide short-term loans at commercial rates of 0.5% during the pandemic and is available to companies that have a strong investment grade rating and make a material contribution to the British economy.

Spurs said in a statement: “The global pandemic has created unprecedented economic and social challenges and the entertainment sector has been particularly affected. We are yet to see the full extent and duration of the economic impact. As of today, it is unclear when there will be a return to spectator-attended live events.

“Due to the significance of income from matchday, conferencing and third party live events such as concerts and other sports, our estimated revenue loss, including (Premier League) broadcast rebates, may exceed £200m for the period to June, 2021.”

The facility will not be used for player acquisitions and has been arranged to ensure Spurs have financial flexibility and additional working capital. Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy added: “We have always run this club on a self-sustaining commercial basis.

“I said as early as March 18 that, in all my 20 years at the club, there have been many hurdles along the way but none of this magnitude – the COVID-19 pandemic has shown itself to be the most serious of them all.

“It is imperative that we now all work together – scientists, technologists, the Government and the live events sector – to find a safe way to bring spectators back to sport and entertainment venues. Collectively we have the ability to support the development of new technologies to make this possible and to once again experience the passion of fans at live events.”

In September, Tottenham Hotspur confirmed a refinancing package for the £637m in loans taken out to support the development of its new stadium, stating that it had secured one of the most attractive financing deals in sport.

The North London outfit borrowed £637m from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs and HSBC to help develop its £1bn stadium. That bank facility was due to be paid back by April 2022, potentially creating a significant financial challenge for Tottenham.

Premier League

Premier League clubs have reportedly agreed on a raft of measures to enhance the presentation of matches held behind closed doors.

The League last week confirmed that it will resume its 2019-20 season on June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place. In Europe, leagues that have already resumed have trialled a variety of means to improve the look of closed doors games and the Daily Mail newspaper said proposals from the Premier League’s broadcast enhancement advisory group were approved by 19 votes to one at a meeting yesterday (Thursday).

These will include how an empty stadium will be dressed for games, with advertising capped at 25% of the branding at each ground, 65% reserved for images of fans and 10% for the League’s imagery and logos.

A proposal to use crowd noise from the FIFA 20 video game was accepted, although it will only be added to the broadcast feed rather than played into stadia via the public address system. Meanwhile, the widespread use of neutral venues was voted down and will now reportedly only be considered for four matches.

The Athletic reports that video of fans watching games at home could be projected into their team’s stadium at appropriate moments to generate an atmosphere for players and broadcast viewers. The idea of bespoke netting for lower tracks of seating was also discussed, allowing clubs to drape flags or slogans that would be seen on television.


The National Rugby League (NRL) has today said it will become the first Australian professional sports code to welcome fans back into its stadia after receiving clearance from the New South Wales (NSW) Government.

The NRL, which restarted its 2020 Premiership season on May 28, said it has gained permission for fans to attend games at NSW stadia such as Bankwest Stadium, confined to catered areas such as corporate boxes at a ratio of one person every four square metres.

The NRL will submit a biosecurity plan to the NSW Government early next week, with a view to fans being reintroduced for the fifth round of games next weekend. Up to 50 people will be permitted in one corporate box if strict distancing rules are met.

Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V’landys told NRL.com that a similar proposal will be put to Queensland and Victoria’s governments if the NSW effort proves successful. He added: “We are going to be treated the same as the pubs and clubs.

“We’re very pleased the (NSW) government have corrected the anomaly, because this was allowed in pubs, clubs and racecourses but not sports stadiums. It’s a good start and our next step once we’ve done that correctly is to try to convince government to allow us to have spectators in seated areas from July 1 or shortly afterwards.

“In the last seven days, there’s been no community infection (in NSW) whatsoever. So if the infection rate continues at zero or close to it, then there’s no reason why we couldn’t start on July 1 to seat crowds with the proper biosecurity measures.”

WiZink Center

Madrid´s WiZink Center has announced it will reopen its doors in the coming weeks by utilising innovative technology to stage concerts that will be live streamed to music fans.

The 15,000-capacity arena in the Spanish capital said the project already has the strong support of several artists, promoters and record labels, who have been collaborating to design the concert model that aims to cover the current lack of live performances due to COVID-19.

The venue’s main sponsor, digital bank WiZink, is aiding the venture, while Impulsa Eventos e Instalaciones, operator of WiZink Center, has signed an agreement with telco Telefónica, which will serve as the technological partner to develop new production systems to stream live concerts, using techniques commonly used in sports events, but not frequent for concerts.

A statement read: “The objective is to bring the artists back to the stage, and to make the fan live the concert much more closely, with impossible perspectives in face-to-face concerts, and even offering exclusive content, such as the moments before a concert, when the artist prepares to go on stage, or after show, when it will be possible to contact the artist and to transfer his/her emotions directly.”

Performances will be recorded with a maximum of six television cameras that are usually intended for sporting events, to offer different perspectives of the stage. Besides incorporating the latest technologies to live concerts, the arena said the project will serve as an experience for the future possibility of holding concerts that have both an audience present and are streamed.

Fluge Audiovisuales has also signed on as a partner to ensure the staging of events replicates the traditional concert experience at WiZink Center. In the coming days, the calendar and details of the first concert streams will be announced, with stakeholders promising that tickets will be significantly cheaper than regular events.


US venue management and hospitality company Spectra has agreed a multi-year partnership with B2B parking technology provider ParkHub to enhance the fan experience at its venues.

As Spectra’s official parking technology partner, ParkHub will help venues meet the growing demand for contactless guest experiences.

“When we first initiated our partnership with ParkHub, the focus was on upgrading the guest experience at our venues and better understanding the parking data to improve operations,” Bryan Furey, Spectra’s senior vice-president of partnerships, said.

“The beauty of building strategic partnerships is that they can quickly evolve to help overcome unexpected business challenges together. Now that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, our new parking technology partner can play a vital role in helping us address a major customer touchpoint.”

Spectra-operated Subaru Park, the home stadium of Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Philadelphia Union, has already enlisted ParkHub to provide visibility into their parking operations and refine the fan arrival process.

ParkHub’s technology integrates with many ticketing and prepaid parking providers and currently serves over 300 entertainment venues, professional sports teams, universities, and state parks across the United States.

George Baker Sr., founder and CEO of ParkHub, said: “The COVID-19 crisis has caused venues to reconsider operations at every stage of the customer journey. Optimising the parking experience – which is often the fan’s first impression of service at an event – is more critical now than ever before.”

Spectra currently operates 76 arenas, 59 convention centres, and 50 stadiums.

Main Image: Populous