OKLAHOMA CITY, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2020 - As a limited number of fans and guests return to Thunder games and other events at Chesapeake Energy Arena beginning next month, they will see a bevy of substantive practices, protocols and technologies designed to keep them safe and healthy, while still being able to enjoy the game night and entertainment experience.
With official word that the 2020-21 NBA season will begin on Dec. 22, and the Thunder's full schedule to be released at later date, the Thunder, along with Chesapeake Energy Arena’s management company ASM Global, today announced that in order to create appropriate and safe physical distancing, there will be reduced seating capacity for home games. Health and safety measures for game and event nights will also include six-foot seating distance between groups of guests, required face masks, established contactless, self-service ticket scanning and concession purchases, and mandated strict hygiene and disinfecting procedures throughout the building.
The protocols and guidelines were developed by a health and safety task force comprised of representatives from the Thunder and in partnership with ASM Global, the City of Oklahoma City, OKC-County Health Department, OU Health and the NBA. The joint effort began in March, continued throughout the NBA hiatus and remains focused on staying current with appropriate measures that are being put into place.
The task force also called upon the expertise of ASM Global’s VenueShield program. VenueShield and its experts have partnered with health officials and industry leaders in environmental hygiene and sanitization to provide an evolving approach to the unique aspects of the more than 300 ASM Global-managed venues around the world. ASM continues to refine and develop VenueShield by collecting and monitoring data, researching new technology and products, and updating best practices, particularly as they relate to COVID-19. The VenueShield program has fully endorsed the measures being taken by the task force.
"We remain focused on providing a safe and healthy environment for our guests as they return to enjoy the Thunder Basketball experience," said Danny Barth, Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for the Thunder. "We have worked in close collaboration with the City of Oklahoma City, arena management and local health authorities to develop and implement these important measures.”
“We are committed to fostering strong public confidence in the health and safety of the experience when guests return to the facility for events,” said Chris Semrau, General Manager of Chesapeake Energy Arena. “We recognize our guests’ desire to fully enjoy the event journey and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure a safe environment and a memorable experience.”
The reopening health and safety measures include:
- Chesapeake Arena has upgraded its HVAC system to provide a higher quality of filtered air to meet ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Merv13 standards.
- Electrostatic sprayers will also be used to evenly disperse disinfectants across surfaces quickly and evenly.
- Common spaces will be subject to reduced capacity in order to best serve physical-distancing protocols, such as elevators, first aid rooms and restrooms.
- Additional staff will be dedicated to restrooms and other high-traffic areas, and the arena seating bowl will be fully disinfected prior to fan arrival.
- Hand sanitizer stations will be located throughout the arena.
- Face masks will be required of guests and staff to enter the venue and should be worn at all times, unless actively eating or drinking. This policy will be strictly monitored.
- Reduced seating capacity for all arena events, including Thunder games, allowing for proper and safe six-foot distance between groups of guests.
- Reduced capacity within arena bars and restaurants, with tables set six feet apart.
- Floor markers will be placed in all areas to help promote physical distancing of at least six feet.
- Full contactless mobile ticketing will be implemented for guests to use self-serve ticket scanners at all arena entrances, reducing points of contact with staff. Mobile tickets for Thunder games can be seamlessly accessed or transferred via the Thunder App or okcthunder.com
- Contactless scanners will be installed at all concession and merchandise locations to offer the ability to use credits cards without physically exchanging the card with staff. This technology has been put in place in an effort to transition to a fully cashless environment throughout the arena.
- Additional contactless payment options (Apple Pay, Google Wallet) will be available at every point of purchase.
- In preparation for event days, additional cleaning staff will available to facilitate increased cleaning and sanitization, with a focus on high-touch areas.
- A new mobile food and beverage ordering system, via the Thunder App, will allow ordering and paying via mobile phone and offering express pickup locations in an effort to maximize physical distancing in concessions lines.
- Plexiglass barriers will be installed at all concession stands to reduce contact between guests and employees.
- All Chesapeake Arena staff will undergo additional health and safety training prior to the NBA season. Staff will also be subject to temperature checks and will wear appropriate PPE such as face masks, gloves and goggles as needed during games and events.
The Thunder will provide additional information directly to its Season Ticket Members in the coming days. Further details about the steps being taken for health and safety, including a comprehensive arena reopening guide, are available at okcthunder.com/reopen.