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Volume 23 No. 28
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Certification bolsters venues’ cleaning efforts

Hard Rock Stadium is among the venues that have been GBAC certified and has already welcomed small numbers of fans.
Photo: getty images

More sports facilities continue to obtain a certification for their cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention protocols as they prepare for the return of fans.

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s GBAC STAR facility rating is considered the venue management industry’s gold standard for cleaning and disease prevention. The rating system started the first week of May 2020 and has given standardized criteria and guidance to an industry that is mostly subject to local and state regulations. The program was originally scheduled to be launched in the fall of 2020, but the pandemic accelerated its start, said Steve Arehart, GBAC’s director of program management.

So far, nearly a dozen sports venues have been GBAC accredited (see chart). The cost for arenas and stadiums to go through the GBAC rating process is 30 cents per seat, with a minimum spend of $500 and a maximum cost of $15,000. 

Kim Stone, general manager of Chase Center, oversaw the venue’s two-month GBAC Star certification process that was driven by Golden State Warriors’ fan feedback expectations for safety in the COVID era. 

Stone declined to reveal the cost for Chase Center to incorporate the GBAC’s health and safety protocols, but she said the Warriors’ sanitation budget will increase by 20%. “It’s critical to just reassuring our guests that they’re going to come to Chase Center, and they’re going to be safe, and they’re going to have an amazing time,” she said. 

Because of COVID, officials from GBAC could not go to the Chase Center to do an on-site audit of the facility, so officials did an online assessment and will make an in-person visit once travel can resume. The Warriors also consulted with Lee Zeidman, president of Staples Center and L.A. Live, who oversaw the first venue in the NBA, WNBA and NHL to obtain the certification. 

The GBAC application process provides document resources and an adviser to guide the venue as it moves toward accreditation. GBAC provides a risk assessment of the facility and discusses with venue management how those risks can be mitigated. 

“So, especially with sporting venues, obviously you have game days, and you’ve got to think about locker rooms, you’ve got to think about where referees are, you have to think about the fan experience, but you also have to think about your staff and what’s the ingress of your staff as well as the guests,” Arehart said.  “How are you looking at cleaning and disinfecting the seating area? What is your method for determining where people can sit and where people cannot sit? We’re seeing a lot of innovative ideas and products and apps that are coming out of this and different software.”