Foolproof plans to reopen Racing 92’s arena


Paris La Defense Arena Image:

Bathilde Lorenzetti, Vice-President of Racing 92, has submitted a document to the prefects of Hauts-de-Seine and Ile-de-France and the Ministry of Sports detailing the measures for the reopening of the Paris La Défense Arena.

The document is currently being studied by the prefectures. On July 18, a clear picture will emerge as to how many spectators will be allowed for the Top 14 games set to start in September.

Stated Lorenzetti, “We need an answer by the end of July, because we need to organize and market the tickets.” Lorenzetti is the daughter of Jacky Lorenzetti, President and owner of Racing 92.

Racing 92 is a French rugby union club based in suburban Paris that was formed in 2001 with the collaboration of the Racing Club de France and US Métro. They were called Racing Métro 92 between 2001 and 2015, when they changed the name to Racing 92.

The 30,681-capacity Paris La Défense Arena is the home stadium of Racing 92 and is a closed rugby stadium (and a performance hall), but its dimensions, 156 m long, 160 m wide, its ceiling height (42 m) allow for planning. It opened on October 16, 2017 and is located in Nanterre, France.

She has promised that if this plan is accepted, only 14,000 spectators will be allowed for the Top 14 resumption, scheduled for September 5, with the Racing 92 matches. Even if the club’s management asked the League national team to play their first game of the season away from home.

The Top 14 is a professional rugby union club competition that is played in France. Created in 1892, the Top 14 is at the top of the national league system operated by the French National Rugby League, also known by its French initialism of LNR.

Foolproof measures

The arena will set up security gantries as the national security alert system of France – Vigipirate – is still in force. It will also ensure physical distancing. Different corridors will allow access to the enclosure upon arrival on the esplanade and wearing of masks will be made mandatory in the queues.

If a request is put by the health authorities, temperature check will also be done. At the exit point, a specific device will be put up to ensure that fans do not converge at the same time in the metro. People will have to egress on a zone by zone basis.

Elbow room

Stated an arena official, “We are lucky to have a lot of space.” The enclosure was thus divided into six rooms, three on each floor. Each zone corresponds to a color (yellow, purple and red) indicated on the tickets (sold only online), with a limited number of spectators each time (between 1,500 and 3,381 people).

As each zone is autonomous it is simply not possible for fans to come in close contact with each other. Each zone also boasts its respective ingress and egress points and also enjoys its own smoking area and refreshment bars as well as its own washrooms. Click and collect is favored to avoid serpentine queues. Only one seat in two will be occupied. The rows will be offset to allow a distance of at least one meter.

The official added, “Everything is being done so that the spectator retains a customer experience as close as possible to normal room operation.”

Only 13,486 supporters per match can be accommodated (out of a capacity of 40,000). However, restricted supporters’ entry will still bring in the revenue.

Healthy space

The plan has been so formulated that the enclosure will wear a brand new look. During its construction, from an ecological perspective, Paris-La Défense Arena had planned an extremely developed air clearance and extraction system. As the management puts in, “An indoor air treatment and a total renewal every hour which means that microbes cannot settle and improves filtration. Everybody will be safe.”

No events have been held in the arena since March 7 this year as COVID-19 has also taken a heavy toll in France.

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