Citi Field, Gillette Stadium and Inter Miami CF Stadium have been announced as the latest major US sports venues to host vaccination centres during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen yesterday (Tuesday) said Citi Field will begin administering vaccines through the NYC Health + Hospitals system, from January 25.

The agreement builds on the Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium’s role as an early testing site, with Citi Field expected to administer up to 7,000 vaccinations per day. “I want to be clear,” de Blasio quipped at the announcement. “We welcome Queens residents. We welcome all New Yorkers. We even welcome Yankees fans.”

New York City is currently making vaccinations available to first responders, essential workers, teachers and school staff; people who live or work in shelters; public-facing grocery store workers; and anyone aged 75 and older. Authorities are hoping to vaccinate 175,000 people this week.

Cohen said: “We know the suffering that’s going on with COVID, and any way the organisation could help support this effort, we were going to do it. The goal is just to get the vaccine in people’s arms so we can get this crisis over with, and get back to resuming a normal life.”

In Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium, home of NFL American football team the New England Patriots, has been confirmed as the state’s first location for a mass vaccination site. The Baker-Polito Administration said the site will initially be available to first responders and later other eligible individuals as the Command Center works through the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

The Gillette Stadium site will open with the capacity to do 300 vaccines per day, ramping up to administering up to 5,000 vaccines per day over time.

Meanwhile, the home of Major League Soccer (MLS) club Inter Miami has commenced operations as a mass vaccination site. The site is being administered by Broward Health, the City of Fort Lauderdale and Inter Miami CF. It is currently offering around 500 shots per day, and hopes to build this up to around 1,000.

“We are grateful to be in a position to support the City of Fort Lauderdale’s vaccination efforts and begin flipping the page of this pandemic chapter for our community,” said Inter Miami CF managing owner Jorge Mas, according to CBS Miami.

“We hope our facilities continue to evolve into long-term, versatile venues that serve South Florida from both the entertainment and public resources perspectives for decades to come.”

In other news, Inter Miami has partnered with HYPE Sports Innovation for its second cycle of the Global Virtual Accelerator 2.0 (GVA2.0), a program aiming to solve the industry’s greatest challenges. 

Inter said it will have front row access to the latest technologies and innovations available in the sports media industry through HYPE. The GVA2.0 program will kick off with a presentation of business challenges from each participant to a shortlist of startups narrowed down from around 900-plus applications, who will be tasked with conducting a series of product/service pilots addressing the challenges. The goal for the startups will be to produce relevant solutions that could be implemented into the participants’ existing infrastructures. 

The first GVA program launched in early 2020 with franchises like fellow MLS club LAFC, NFL team the Miami Dolphins and MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays participating, among others. The program resulted in 17 confirmed pilots and commercial agreements between sports tech startups and sports clubs and federations around the world, focusing primarily on technologies such as 5G, blockchain, AI and BIG Data.

“As a new club heading into our second season in MLS, we are excited to be a part of this project and to partner with industry and tech professionals who will facilitate new and innovative solutions for internal business operations,” said Jean Manuel Jimenez, vice-president of content and broadcast at Inter Miami CF.

“GVA2.0 will give us new ways to tackle challenges, especially as they pertain to technology and the generation of commercial opportunities by allowing new, creative minds to develop solutions that could ultimately influence our business decisions.” 

Image: Charles Smith/CC BY-SA 2.0/Edited for size