Signal Iduna Park

Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park is set to be used as a test site for new technology designed to aid the return of fans to German Bundesliga football games, according to multiple reports.

Both Sport Bild and local newspaper Ruhr Nachrichten have reported that the trial will be carried out at Dortmund’s final game of the season against TSG Hoffenheim on June 27. The Bundesliga’s 2019-20 campaign resumed amid COVID-19 on May 16, but all games have been held behind closed doors.

Dortmund is said to be keen to return 20,000 to 30,000 fans to the 81,365-capacity Signal Iduna Park in the medium term and it has teamed up with Berlin-based technology company G2K for the new venture.

The Hoffenheim match itself will be played out under current regulations permitting no more than 200 people in a stadium, but the trial itself will reportedly include extra participants outside of the match.

Three different systems will be tested including contactless body temperature scanning for those entering Signal Iduna Park. A people counting device using 3D sensors will also be assessed, which is designed to regulate the number of fans entering a venue. Finally, a distance measurement tool will be tested which monitors social distancing in stands.

The pilot project at Signal Iduna Park will reportedly be used to inform the German Football League’s (DFL’s) thinking as it looks towards means to partially reopen Bundesliga stadia.

LaLiga

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has outlined some of the measures being considered that would allow fans to return to football stadia in Spain.

Tebas has said the organising body of the top two divisions of the domestic game are working on a protocol that will allow the partial reopening of stadia this season or next. “We’re working on a protocol to be able to open stadiums,” Tebas told Radio Marca Asturias.

“The entrances and exits worry us, half-time (intervals) these are the things we’re working on. You have to keep social distancing, even when wearing a mask; we’re talking about sectorised zones so that everyone has a special entrance gate.

“We’re talking about a website where you have to register what time you will arrive, even the exact time you are able to enter and what route to take in the stadium to avoid crowds and the same for leaving. A protocol which can serve for this season or for next season until we can have full capacity, which I think will take a while.”

Tebas has been vocal in his ambition to return fans to stadia. Speaking last week he said fans could return to stadia before the end of the 2019-20 season, but Irene Lozano, president of Spain’s National Sports Council (CSD), maintained that games will remain behind closed doors.

Spanish football’s top division resumed on June 11 following its suspension due to COVID-19, as Sevilla defeated Real Betis 2-0 at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Last week’s match was one of 110 games that will be played by July 19.

Empower Field at Mile High

NFL American football franchise the Denver Broncos and the Stadium Management Company (SMC) for Empower Field at Mile High have detailed the enhanced safety measures that are being implemented for upcoming events at the venue.

At a virtual meeting for the Metropolitan Football Stadium District, SMC general manager Jay Roberts outlined a series of steps the Broncos and stadium will take to ensure a safe return for fans when the venue reopens.

These include the installation of 500 hand sanitiser stations — both stand-alone and wall-mounted units — for fans to utilise throughout the stadium. Bipolar ionisation has been added in the stadium’s HVAC system, which is expected to both lower the risk of disease transfer and eliminate allergens.

UV-C lights have been installed under escalators in order to reduce or eliminate bacteria on widely used handrails. Roberts added that the transformation of all bathrooms to entirely touchless systems, including toilets, sinks and paper towel dispensers, is expected to be complete before the start of the 2020 NFL season.

He added: “Our goal is to do everything we can to invite as many people as possible back to the stadium in as safe a manner as possible, and that (includes) working with local, state, NFL and other local and national experts on how we can do this in a really good way.”

In order to complete these projects and prepare the stadium for an expected increase in events in 2021, SMC has been granted an increase in funding. The Denver Post newspaper noted that the meeting did not cover how many fans are expected to be allowed in the stadium for the Broncos’ home opener against the Tennessee Titans on September 14, or what measures will be taken to ensure fan safety.

Stadium MK

The Stadium MK group, parent company of the eponymous stadium and English League One football club Milton Keynes Dons, has secured a seven-figure Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facility through Santander UK.

The Milton Keynes Citizen newspaper said the loan will help meet cashflow issues, retain staff and plan future events as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

The company also includes Marshall Arena, which has become a hub for the return of live sport in the UK. It hosted snooker’s Championship League earlier this month, while the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) will run its PDC Summer Series at the venue from July 8-12.

Stadium MK chairman Pete Winkelman said: “The timely and effective support from Santander has enabled us to get back to work and start delivering events again, helping Stadium MK and Milton Keynes to take the lead in post-COVID-19 recovery.

“The tremendous support of Santander has helped us to complement the positive effects of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme by allowing us to keep most of our talented and dedicated staff together and minimise the level of redundancies that we have had to undertake.”

Image: Borussia Dortmund