Events industry gasp in COVID-struck Europe



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Germany Pro Event Industry Image: Paul Zimmer & Pro Event

A press conference was held recently at Lanxess Arena in Cologne, Germany, wherein a new initiative called ‘Pro Event’ aimed at salvaging the live events industries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland was launched in the wake of the global outbreak of COVID-19 which has almost brought the live events industry to its knees.

Lanxess Arena is an indoor arena, in Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is known as the 18,500-capacity home of the ice hockey team Kölner Haie. The arena opened in 1998 and can accommodate 20,000 people for concerts. With its capacity of 18,500, it is the largest ice hockey arena outside North America.

In the above event, a decision was arrived at initiating a three-step plan of action:

  • Step One envisages halting the economic collapse of the events sector being presently witnessed in the aforementioned countries;
  • Step Two contemplates “stabilizing” the events industry in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and
  • Step Three foresees the “incremental build-up” of the business.

Edwin Weindorfer, promoter of the ATP tennis tournament bett1HULKS Championship, is the brain behind ‘Pro Event’. He stressed in the press meet that to bail out the events industry from the “state of shock” it currently finds itself in, sports, culture, politics and society needs to adopt a joint approach for holding events targeting the economically viable audience – while strictly adhering to the required hygiene and safety concepts keeping in mind the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Bett1Hulks Championship is an ATP tournament organized for male professional tennis players, and was held in Cologne, Germany, in mid-October 2020 on indoor hard courts. It was primarily organized due to the cancellation of many tournaments during the 2020 season as COVID-19 continues to attack the world with full blast.

Pro Event aims to discuss “concrete ways and measures” with policymakers that will ensure the short-term financial survival and medium-term ability of the events industry to bounce back.

Lanxess Arena CEO Stefan Löcher lamented before the gathering that his arena lost 97 percent of last year’s revenues since March 2020. He argued that strictly sticking to the hygiene-related directives from the Government was “pointless”, as politicians were almost every other day coming up with a new statement in context with stadia capacity as COVID-19 pack a punch in Europe.

Löcher further argued that the above stance of the Government has led to a feeling of helplessness amongst event professionals, in particular, as they consider themselves as part of the solution, not the problem.

He said his team supported Pro Event, as it had become imperative for the events industry to make its voice heard in the corridors of power.

Bett1 Founder and head honcho Adam Szpyt, Co-Initiator of ‘Pro Event’, said, “People crave for entertainment and we have to cater to them. The elderly people, in particular, should not remain in isolation. We need to get them out of [isolation] and into our stadiums. Let’s utilize these safe spaces during the pandemic.”

He also stressed on keeping the German culture alive so that the situation does not come to such a pass that one has to “import Chinese culture”.

Barbara Rittner, Head Coach, DTB (Germany’s national gymnastics association) and part of the ‘Pro Event’ task force, could not agree more with Szpyt and explained how she had recently brought her 80-year-old mother to attend a social distancing event held at Lanxess Arena.

Rittner added, “She’s absolutely safe here (read inside the stadium). Much more safe than on the tram or in the supermarket,” and explained how the arena was very well-ventilated and left little room for the virus to spread.

Michael Herberger (musician and concert organizer), who is also a member of the ‘Pro Event’ Task Force, said, “The events industry does not want to be kept on a high pedestal. All it wants is a level playing field. A proper framework should be in place for the events industry to survive during these times of pandemic.”

Several big names in German sports joined the presser via video message. Few among them are Alfons Hörmann, President, German Olympic Sports Confederation, Ariane Hingst, two-time World Champion, Bundesliga Coach VFL Wolfsburg (Women), and Philipp Walter, Managing Director, Kölner Haie.

The ‘PRO EVENT’ initiators welcomed the statement made by the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, Peter Altmaier, who stated recently, “There are industries that are doing really bad, we have to help them out – concert organizers and event organizers. We will help them, we will not let them down.”

In the press meet it was decided that ‘Pro Event’ will organize a series of digital conferences in order to network with each other and to share each other’s experiences.

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