Stadiums continue to play Good Samaritans


NHL/Principality Stadium/MB Stadium Image: NHL/Principality Stadium/MB Stadium

The fatal respiratory illness coronavirus is getting deadlier by the day. Coronavirus has infected more than two million people and killed more than a hundred thousand globally. The global coronavirus cases to date are – 2,206,676, and the fatality figures are – 148,663.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, stadiums the world over are being transformed into hospitals. Stadiums – where die-hard soccer fans used to go into frenzy every time their demigods scored goals – are now being turned into field hospitals as the world tries to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

Continuing with our series – ‘Stadiums as Hospitals’, we present Part IV. Part I was carried out in the ‘Coliseum’ edition dated March 25, 2020, under the title – ‘Stadia turn into hospitals to handle COVID-19 outbreak’ and the Part II series was published on April 3, 2020, under the title – ‘Sports venues world over pitch in to combat coronavirus’. ‘Stadiums put best foot forward as COVID-19 body bags pile up’ was Part III of the series which got published in the April 10, 2020 edition of ‘Coliseum’.


United States


Mercedes-Benz Stadium


NFL gesture

The United States is the country right now which is facing the COVID-19 heat the most. The country is bleeding with the fatal virus taking a heavy toll.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home ground of the National Football League (NFL) American football franchise the Atlanta Falcons and Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Atlanta United, is the latest major US sports venue to attune its food and beverage services to aid the local community during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium multipurpose venue sits at Atlanta, Georgia, in United States. In tandem with Piedmont Healthcare, CHRIS 180 and celebrated Atlanta chef Hugh Acheson, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the family foundation of Falcons and United owner, Arthur M Blank, have announced three new programs – to donate meals to the communities living in and around Atlanta amidst the pandemic.

The Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare is a not-for-profit community health system comprising 11 hospitals, over 2,200 medical staff personnel and more than 22,000 employees.

The Piedmont Healthcare program, which launched recently, will provide 5,000 meals a week to Piedmont Hospitals in Fayette County and Newnan, south of metro Atlanta. Providing boxed meals facilitates frontline healthcare workers to also practice social distancing in areas such as the hospital cafeteria where otherwise patients might throng. Mercedes-Benz Stadium and its food and beverage partner Levy Restaurants are preparing the lunches and delivering them to the two hospitals three times a week.

Apart from this, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is offering its kitchens and Levy chefs to prepare food for CHRIS 180. A long-time Blank Family Foundation partner on the westside of Atlanta, CHRIS 180 provides residents with critical support services, such as housing, behavioral health and youth development. It takes a holistic approach to social determinants. To help address present issues with food insecurity, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is providing meals to CHRIS 180 to distribute to the westside community.

Lastly, with a grant from the Blank Family Foundation, the famed Atlanta chef Acheson is joining hands with Georgia Organics and Fueling the Frontline to deliver hundreds of meals each week to frontline workers at Atlanta Medical Center and the VA health care system, as well as to children and families through Carver Neighborhood Market, the Metro Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and HEALing Community Center.

The Mercedes-Benz Stadium gesture comes close on the heels of Nationals Park (a baseball park along the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C.) being repurposed recently as a hub to cook and distribute thousands of free meals for those who are in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Serving our community has always been one of our driving forces as an organization, and when we work alongside our partners, we can together provide more value with our COVID-19 relief efforts,” stated Steve Cannon, top gun of AMB Sports + Entertainment, operating group of the stadium and its two teams.

“More than ever, the people of Atlanta need us to join forces with other organizations and utilize our resources to drive positive change, and it’s our hope that these efforts provide hope and aid during this time of need,” added Cannon.

In March, the Blank Family Foundation announced nearly $5.4m (£4.3m/€4.9m) in funding for immediate and long-term recovery assistance to organizations providing critical support throughout Georgia and Montana to help fight the battle against coronavirus.

Recently, it was announced that Blank and Mercedes-Benz Stadium had established a $1m emergency relief fund for core stadium event-day associates, including associates for concessions partner, Levy Restaurants, and venue security partner, SAFE Management, to help overcome the hardship incurred as a result of the pandemic.


Busch Stadium


MLB gesture

The 44,494 capacity Busch Stadium, a baseball park located in St. Louis, Missouri (US), the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, the city’s Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise, is also reaching out to people who are facing extreme distress due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The St. Louis Cardinals has augmented its commitment to seasonal and game-day employees at Busch Stadium by announcing an additional $1m fund to support those impacted by postponed games and events.

The first fund, which was announced as part of the League-wide 30-club, $30m initiative in March, will assist approximately 1,350 part-time and game-day Cardinals employees including ushers, event staff, scoreboard operators, grounds crew, retail staff, carpenters, laborers, interns, and others affected due to the delay in start of the season.

Financial support for these employees will range in the bracket of $500 to $1,275, depending on tenure and other factors, with checks being mailed or funds being available through direct deposit and the whole exercise got rolling on Tuesday.

A $1m grant by Cardinals Care, the team’s community foundation, has helped set up the second fund. The Cardinals Care Relief Fund has been conceived to provide relief to 2020 seasonal and game-day Busch Stadium contract employees facing pecuniary pressure due to the pandemic.

This group of workers, estimated to be close to around 1,900, consists of concession employees, emergency medical and security personnel, cleanup crew members, and others who work for companies that enter into a contract with the Cardinals to provide services to the team.

Cardinals Care is associating with the St. Louis Community Foundation, which is holding and administering the fund, to process eligible recipients and implement the grant program. Eligible recipients will receive a one-time grant of $450. Once the initial grants are processed and additional funds are left, it will be given to people who are facing too much of financial constraints.

Said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, “We are committed to helping the St. Louis community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing financial support for our seasonal and game-day employees is critical, and we consider all Busch Stadium workers – regardless of what company name is on their pay check – to be part of the Cardinals family.”

The move comes after the Cardinals entered into an agreement with American brewing company Anheuser-Busch, American regional sports network Fox Sports Midwest and the American Red Cross to announce they would host a blood drive at Busch Stadium on April 21.
Coronavirus count

The coronavirus count in US to date stands at 678,210 and the death figures are – 34,641.


United Kingdom (UK)




Rugby role

The United Kingdom is also fighting a tough battle against coronavirus. The fatal respiratory disease is creating havoc in UK with the likes of Prince Charles and Prime Minister Boris Johnson having been afflicted by it.

The stadiums in UK are also reaching out to people who are leading agonized lives due to the pandemic.

Sixways Stadium located in Worcester, UK, residence of English Premiership rugby union team Worcester Warriors, has become the latest UK sports venue to be used as a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility.

The drive-thru facility has been set up as part of the UK Government’s widespread initiative to increase testing for thousands more National Health Service (NHS) staff and other key workers. Sixways Stadium will work on an appointment-only basis for NHS staff and other key workers. A pilot run will be launched in the facility in the first few days of operation.

The UK Government is collaborating with universities, research institutes and companies to begin rolling out the network of new labs and field testing sites, with 27 testing sites opened to date. This network will provide thousands more polymerise chain reaction (PCR) swab tests, used to identify if a person currently has the virus, for critical key workers, starting with NHS frontline personnel.

The Sixways testing center is being run in partnership with security services company G4S, and is offering self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.

Warriors’ co-owner Colin Goldring remarked, “We have a large car park at Sixways, situated close to a junction of the M5 motorway and other main roads which makes the site easily accessible to NHS staff in Worcester, Worcestershire and the wider West Midlands. We were only too happy to help when we were asked about using our facilities for this drive-thru testing center.”

He noted, “A number of our players and staff have already been involved in a range of initiatives to support the NHS and also to help out the local community during these challenging circumstances.”

Professor John Newton, National Co-ordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, added, “New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our
five-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.”

He further observed, “This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across UK by the end of the month.”


Principality Stadium

The home arena of Welsh Rugby, Principality Stadium which is located at Cardiff, Wales in UK, has been set up as a temporary hospital providing some 2,000 extra beds to NHS Wales as part of scenario planning by the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board.

The venue was made available to the Welsh Government by the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), with clinicians and managers working in sync with the Principality Stadium team and a range of specialist contractors to create the new facility.

Martyn Phillips, head honcho of Welsh Rugby Union, which owns and runs Principality Stadium, stated, “We have made the entire Principality Stadium available to be used based on NHS requirements, including hospitality areas and a variety of further rooms and facilities. It is a privilege to be able to offer our services, facilities and a significant number of operational staff, at their individual choice, to help at this time of national emergency.”

Phillips added, “We have made advanced plans to transform relevant spaces into fully functional hospital environments, working closely with Levy UK, who is responsible for overseeing similar transitions elsewhere.”

Commented Len Richards Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO), “Cardiff and Vale University Health Board has been planning and making preparations based upon the modeling and predictions of numbers of patients and admissions across a range of different scenarios, including best to reasonable case scenarios. The assumptions have been well documented following recent publication by Imperial College, London, and as a Health Board we felt it incumbent to ensure that we plan and prepare for all scenarios.”

The CEO added, “It is difficult looking at the numbers to appreciate the size and the scale of the task ahead of us in the NHS. However, we have been using the past few weeks’ wisely in order to put structures and processes in place across our main hospital sites, University Hospital Wales and University Hospital Llandough. In addition to this, we have secured the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, as a temporary field hospital with the capacity to hold up to an additional 2,000 beds.”

Richards added, “I understand the concern that this will cause, not only in the community but among my staff too. However, we are planning on the basis of what we think we might need to ensure we are as ready as we can be. I sincerely hope we don’t need to use all of the capacity but it is far better to have developed plans based upon the scientific evidence and modeling of the experts.”

He further stated, “The staffing levels and type of patients received at the hospital is part of our planning and is constantly being refined in line with the trajectory of the coronavirus. The facility will allow us to free up capacity at our other hospital sites so that we can continue to provide services to patients with other health conditions.”

Minister for Health and Social Services Vaughan Gething observed, “Health boards are working closely with the Welsh Government to take all possible steps to prepare Wales for the coronavirus and that involves preparing for the worst case scenario modeling. I have made £8m in capital funding available to Cardiff and Vale to help with that planning for hospital and community beds.”

Gething added, “Cardiff and Vale, along with health boards across Wales, are working hard to get ready to look after and treat people who become sick and are looking at venues like the Principality Stadium to provide space for hospital and community beds.”

Lauding the Principality Stadium operators for repurposing the facility, Robert Else of Terraplas, manufacturers of terratrak plus, said, “We’re very proud of the Principality Stadium and their employees working tirelessly on this vital scheme for the NHS. The stadium has undertaken an emergency transformation, using their terratrak plus turf protection system from Terraplas to become the ‘Dragon’s Heart Hospital’ during the Covid19 pandemic.”

Further singing paeans of praise, he stated, “Fantastic work by all the individuals, volunteers and companies involved. We wish them all the best of luck and hope everyone stays safe in these unprecedented times.”
Coronavirus count

The coronavirus figures to date in UK stands at 103,093 and the total deaths figures are – 13,729.



The coronavirus fatality rate is still low in Germany when compared to other European countries like France, Spain, Italy and UK. It is due to the fact that the country is testing far more people than other nations. Germany has also slowly eased lockdown measures.


Arena Regensburg


Soccer initiative

Arena Regensburg – a football stadium in Regensburg, Germany, which serves as the home arena of football club Jahn Regensburg – is also lending a helping hand to tackle the coronavirus situation.

The corona test center at Arena Regensburg is running since March 31. The test center offers a central point of contact for people suffering from coronavirus and people with cold or fever symptoms. It has been set up to serve twin purpose – supplement to the test center at the Regensburg University Hospital and also to take the pressure off the emergency rooms of the local hospitals, the district medical association and the practices of general practitioners.

The size of the area and the event center in the football facility facilitate people to maintain a safe distance while the test center carry out the registration and examination exercise with regard to coronavirus.

For the testing purpose, three mobile treatment rooms were set up in the Welcome Zone in Arena Regensburg. Here, the saliva samples are taken by the specialist staff and registration is done accordingly. In the upper area of the building, there are another four mobile treatment rooms in which, if necessary, initial medical examinations can be carried out on-site. Few of the rooms in the Welcome Zone are being used for administrative works. Arena Regensburg staff is helping in running the test center smoothly and is also at the service of the medical staff.

“When setting up the test center, we placed great value on guiding the patients and medical staff, so that a ghost game could possibly take place in the 2nd Bundesliga parallelly,” said Sebastian Graf, Operations Manager at Arena Regensburg.

Ambulance services are available from Monday to Friday (9 am to 12 pm) and from (2 pm to 5 pm) until further notice. To get screened, a referral slip and a laboratory transfer, which are issued by the general practitioners of the Regensburg region, will have to be produced at the test center. Only people who can show a referral slip and a laboratory transfer can get access to the test center. Patients must also bring identity proof in the form of insurance card and, if possible, a medication plan.

Questions as regards the test procedure can only be answered by the general practitioners of the Regensburg region, the emergency medical service (phone number 116 117) or the Regensburg Health Department. Appointments are also made exclusively through them and the arena team are not in a position to provide any information in this regard.
Coronavirus count

Germany’s coronavirus figures to date stands at 138,369 and the death toll is – 4,105.


Philanthropic activities

Stadiums around the world are carrying on with their benevolent acts as the world is caught in the throes of the dangerous coronavirus pandemic.

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