The Sports and Entertainment Industries Are Forever Changed by COVID-19

But they can emerge much stronger and better

The Innovation Institute’s COVID-19 work has been inspired by its partnership with Toffler Associates on the Return to Work, Play and Spectate National Task Force

Our world has been altered by an invisible virus and its cascading impacts. It has changed how we live, work and play in ways we could have never anticipated or imagined. Just like 9/11 brought lasting changes to our society and to the security landscape, so has this pandemic.

For our sports and entertainment industries to proactively and effectively prepare, Toffler Associates and the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience assembled a diverse group of industry thought leaders. Together they have discussed and analyzed how sports and entertainment management, safety and security operations can be re-imagined as a result of the pandemic. The group is working on short- and long-term solutions as new information becomes available.

REturn to Work, play, and SPECTATE National Task FORCE


Through leveraging the thought leaders in the sports and entertainment security industry, identify the key learnings, questions, and decisions that must be made during the “Great Wait” to safely return to work, play, and spectate. 


By leveraging the knowledge and experience of thought leaders in the sports, entertainment and security industries, identify key learnings, questions, and decisions that must be made during the “Great Wait” to safely return to work, play and spectate and make informed and innovative recommendations to guide these industries forward.

How this Task Force will bring stability to a current fragile industry:

Identify the current environment and emerging requirements for rtwps

Thru June 2020

Develop the RTWPS guiding principles integral to planning for the Novel Normal

Thru August 2020

Evolve and communicate the RTWPS thought leadership across the industry

Thru 2022

Robust Stakeholder Engagement

The task force represents a cross-section of sports and entertainment industry stakeholders and subject matter experts representing:
  • Entertainment

  • Professional Sports

  • Intercollegiate Athletics

  • Interscholastic Athletics

  • Endurance Events

  • Amusement/Theme

  • Parks

  • Parades/Festivals

  • Medical Profession

  • Law Firms


Each member of the Task Force brings insights to collectively cross-pollinate a set of overall issues, concerns, and strategies. These return to work, play and spectate strategies provide a foundation and framework to address the pandemic’s impact on venues and events in the sports and entertainment industries.

The task force’s recommendations and guidelines are based on discussions with health experts, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). But, safety and security organizations must also consult applicable state and local public health agencies as well as federal and state OSHA guidelines.

The world’s knowledge regarding COVID-19 mitigation strategies continues to evolve, and we recognize that the period of transition may be extended and the recommended solutions adjusted. The task force stands ready and flexible.

Participants in the Task Force are listed below.

Flexibility and thoughtful planning will be essential

The Return to Work, Play, and Spectate task force is comprised of senior individuals from the industry form the industry's leading organizations.


Caitlyn Durkovich

Toffler Associates


Dr. Lou Marciani

Innovation Institute for Fan Experience


Gary Gardner



Hans Davies

Toffler Associates

Will Swaim

Toffler Associates


Task force projects & deliverables

It is vital to tap into the collective knowledge across critical areas of the industry to safely plan how to bring talent, staff, and spectators back to sports and entertainmen.t.





emerging and essential technology
Talent, players, coaches, and staff
venues and stadium operations
regulation, legislation and policies
Entertainment and Non-Sporting Events


Congressional letter identifying the blind spots in the current venue liability protection


'Return to Spectate Journey Map' that will assist venue operations in safely planning for spectators


'Covid-19 Planning Imperatives', a summary document identifying the key learnings and questions that must be asked


Covid-19 Sports and Entertainment Planning Guidelines & Resource Library

International Virtual Conference & Expo

1. Developed and sent to congress a letter in support of liability protection for workers returning to work. (July 2020)

2. Developed a return to spectate journey map that is intended to assist venue operators with their safety planning strategies. (August 2020)

3. Developed a summary document identifying the key learnings and questions that must be made during the “Great Wait” to safety return to work, play and spectate. (See below)


Develop the return to work, play and spectate guiding principles to planning for the novel normal with emphasis on Re-image and Re-ignite

1. Develop strategic opportunities that sport and entertainment organizations should consider as they recover from the crisis and emerge stronger for it. (October 2020)

2. Establish a sports and entertainment COVID-19 resource library. The Innovation Institute for Fan Experience will serve as a national repository center for sharing important best-practices and information on the impact of the COVID-19 within the sports and entertainment industry. (September 2020)

3. Hold virtual town halls and workshops organized by the Innovation Institute for Fan
Experience on critical aspects of return to work, play and spectate. (August 2020)


Develop, evolve and communicate the return to work, play and spectate guiding principles for the new normal with emphasis on Reset/Restart/Reopen and Recover.

1. Hold November 10 -11, 2020 International Virtual Conference organized by the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience on the Innovative Pathway to the “New Normal.” (November 2020)

2. Hold virtual town halls, workshops on critical aspects of return to work, play and spectate
organized by the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience. (August 2020)

3. Assist sports and entertainment organizations discover new opportunities and create value in the new normal. (August 2020).


The Innovation Institute for Fan Experience will publish the following deliverable from the Task Force by the end of August 2020.

1   Spectator Journey
2.  Staff Journey
3.  Employee Return to Work Index
4.  COVID-19 Return To Play and Spectate, Considerations for Sports and 
     Entertainment Venues
5.  Scenario Planning Guide


Allison, David
University of Texas
Arthur, Kirk
Balachandran, Priya
Applied Silver
Baver, William
NTT Data
Berland, Terry
Violet Defense
World Ironman Group
Bigelow, Chris
Bigelow Companies
Borland, Scot
Jani King
Brock, Jason
Pritchared Sports & Entertainment
Broughton, David
Sports Business Journal
Brown, Troy
Cleveland Browns
Burchfield, Andy
University of Michigan
Burns, Charles
Cessna, Sharon
Chapman, Jeff
Babel Street
Christine, Tim
Compton, Kirk
NTT Data
Coomer, Joe
Mercedes-Benz Stadium/AMBSE
Cunningham, Andrea
Disney Company
Cunningham, George
Rose Bowl
DeLorenzi, Danny
MetLife Stadium
Dolev, Lisa
Downing, Mike
Oakview Group
Ilitch Holdings
Pillsbury Law
Flores, David
Gilbert, Skip
US Youth Soccer
Haave, Carol
Live Nation
Harnett, Mike
Olympia Entertainment
Heath, Gregory
Performance Clean
Henry, Kevin
Pocono Raceway
Hopkins, Elliot
National Federation High School Associations
Johar, Aman
Jolly, Till
Aveshka Group
Kastel, Matt
Stadium Managers Association
Keas, Jeff
Kilma, Zach
The Wait Times
Kishnani, Smeet
Kothari, Pranav
Rick Family of Companies
Labonte, Ed
Electronic Arts (EA)
Lanier, Cathy
National Football League
Joe Lewis Company
Masterton, Graeme
Mayer, Thom
San Antonio Spurs
McCourt, Mark
Dalani Company
McKay, John
New York Mets
McSwain, Toby
RBC Heritage Golf Tournament
San Francisco 49ers and Levi Stadium
Mills, Ken
Naifeh, Larry
University of Oklahoma
Nied, Robert
Golden State Warriors
Nishi, Mike
Chicago Marathon
Petsch, Timothy
Powers, Rich
American Specialty Insurance
Reynolds, Kirk
Smith, Tim
C3 Presents
Stanford, Barry
AEG World
Steele, Jeff
Auburn University
Thormeier, Bob
Delaware North
Washington, Eddie
University of Michigan
Weiss, Andy
Aveshka Group
Weiss, Stu
Medical Director. NYC Marathon

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