Keeping Sports and Entertainment Venues Well

Yankee Stadium

Now sports venues, as well as exercise, can be deemed healthy, even in the COVID-19 era. The International Well Building Institute (IWBI), the certification body for healthy buildings, has established the Well Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. The rating focuses on operational policies, cleaning protocols and design strategies to address a post COVID-19 environment.

A group of advisors, including a board co-chaired by former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, will advance the completion of the Well Health-Safety Rating specific to these venues. The new Well Health-Safety Rating also will apply to a range of other facility types and market sectors, including offices, hotels, retail, grocery stores, warehouses, manufacturing, theaters, recreation, restaurants and schools, among others.

Leveraging guidance on the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory disease developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), leading academic and research institutions, insights drawn from the IWBI COVID-19 Task Force, and core principles already established by the IWBI’s Well Building Standard, the program provides a centralized source and governing body to validate efforts made by owners and operators.

“Critical feedback from leading industry stakeholders is crucial to the refinement and further development of the WELL Health-Safety Rating,” said Rick Fedrizzi, IWBI chairman and CEO. “By collaborating with industry and subject matter experts in public health, facility ownership, operations, management and policies, cleaning protocols and building and spatial design, we are able to drive towards broader market transformation and completely rethink how owners and operators can adapt to be more resilient as we emerge from this global pandemic. We are excited to fast-track this program for sports and entertainment venues and have the industry fully engaged to address the challenges we face today.”

The IWBI COVID-19 Task Force, a group of over 500 public health experts, virologists, government officials, academics, business leaders, architects, designers, building scientists and real estate professionals, was established at the outset of the pandemic to develop Guidelines on Prevention and Preparedness, Resilience and Recovery in response to pathogen transmission concerns.

In addition to Carmona, co-chairs are Doug Behar, senior vice president and director of stadium operations for the New York Yankees; Mike Biggs, vice president of sports and entertainment partnerships at Jani-King; Allen Hershkowitz, environmental science advisor for the Yankees; Tim Leiweke, CEO of the Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based global sports and entertainment company; Bill Rhoda, president  of global planning at Legends and Tim Romani, CEO of CAA ICON. Task force members also include former Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, UCLA’s Dr. Jonathan Fielding and environmental scientist Allen Hershkowitz. Advisory council members include representatives from the New York Mets, San Francisco 49ers, Texas A&M University, the Detroit Red Wings, Gensler Sports and Inter Miami CF Stadium.

“Given the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sports and entertainment industries are going to be changed forever,” Leiweke said. “We look forward to working with IWBI and the other partnering companies to ensure the industry has the necessary tools, training and world-class industry standards to offer both a secure and welcoming environment for all players, artists, touring personnel, venue employees and fans.”

Participation in the program will require submission of policies, protocols and strategies for third-party document review and annual compliance verification.

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