Panthers and Falcons homes join COVID-19 vaccination drive

Bank of America Stadium and Mercedes-Benz Stadium have become the latest NFL venues to be adapted for use as COVID-19 vaccination centres.

Tepper Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Carolina Panthers and operator of Bank of America Stadium, has today (Thursday) joined forces with Charlotte Motor Speedway, Honeywell and Atrium Health in what is claimed to be unique public-private partnership with the state of North Carolina.

The venture has been backed by Governor Roy Cooper to support the goal of one million COVID-19 vaccinations by July 4. In collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, the organisations aim to unite to vaccinate as many frontline workers, members of the general public and of underserved communities as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To meet the goal of one million vaccinations, the partners will work together to administer the vaccine, provide logistics and operations support and offer a venue for an efficient and safe initiative.

Bank of America Stadium (pictured), Charlotte Motor Speedway and a soon to be determined location in the Winston-Salem area will serve as initial venues to contribute to the public-private initiative. More details will be shared in the coming days on the process and timing for each of the mass vaccination events.

“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our community and country,” said David Tepper, owner of Tepper Sports & Entertainment. “We stand ready to join Honeywell, Atrium Health and Governor Cooper in the effort to administer vaccines and defeat this virus. We hope that our participation will serve as a model for other venues.”

Marcus Smith, president and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports, added: “Last year we moved quickly alongside Atrium Health to create on-site drive-thru testing as well as produce COVID-safe drive-in movies, concerts and our Christmas light show.

“We want to accelerate the process of getting the general public back to its next normal, where people can enjoy everyday activities and sporting events safely. We’re ready to support this aggressive vaccine initiative and help restore our community to good health.”

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of Major League Soccer (MLS), has partnered with Fulton County Board of Health to be a distribution centre for the COVID-19 vaccine.  

Distribution of the vaccine began on January 4 for the Phase 1 rollout to include medical practitioners, front line workers and first responders with more than 4,000 served in the first week. As of January 11, the offering has been expanded to those aged 65 and over per Fulton County and state guidelines. 

The partnership will currently run through March with the option of extending as needed. Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the two clubs’ parent company, AMB Sports and Entertainment, said: “This is a time for our communities to unite together and do what’s right for our citizens. 

“Mercedes-Benz Stadium offers the opportunity to socially distance while servicing large numbers of people at once. We are honoured to be a part of this solution and will do it as long as possible to serve our community.”

The United States’ major league sports venues have been intensifying their efforts in the fight against the pandemic. Minute Maid Park, the home of Major League Baseball (MLB) team Houston Astros, also commenced operations as a vaccination centre at the weekend.

Image: Billibous/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size