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Session 4 – Where’s My Staff?  Building a Confident and Capable Post-Pandemic Workforce 

On March 25th, 2021 IIFX hosted a one-day, virtual summit – Prepping for the Return of Fans!, tailored to share information and innovative solutions between sports and entertainment industry leaders as they prepare to welcome fans and spectators to live entertainment. 

Session 4 featured the third panel of the Prepping for Return of Fans summit.  It was sponsored by Landmark Event Staffing Services, a staffing company built on decades of experience dealing with event issues. This session was a staff-oriented session helping leaders prepare their staff for the post-pandemic work environment so they are confident and can operate safely in a venue full of fans. Rick Fenton, Paul Turner, and Mark Briggs led a riveting conversation about how everyone can be well prepared for the return of fans. 

As the Chief Security Officer for Ilitch Holdings in Detroit, Michigan, Rick Fenton oversees security matters for Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, Little Caesars Arena, which is home to both the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings, as well as casinos and other entertainment venues. Fenton showed how Ilitch Holdings adapted its policies and procedures during the pandemic to fulfil all safety and security commitments while giving their guests the highest standard of care possible. Again, communication with staff and fans is a prominent feature of their plan.  Communication helps fans feel comfortable with attending sports and entertainment events in person again. Rick stressed the importance of core commitments to keeping everyone safe, communicating these commitments to everyone, and creating the best possible experience for fans.

Paul Turner, Senior Director of Event Operations of AT&T Stadium, talked about how he is preparing his game day staff for all of the challenges that come with welcoming fans back to AT&T stadium. As a proponent of training and professionalizing staff, Paul was not a fan of online training courses because people blaze through the courses to finish quickly, without studying and retaining the material.  The pandemic made online training a necessity, so Paul and his team thought creatively about how to incentivize the game day staff to take online training seriously and then apply what they learn to keep all of the fans and themselves safe. 

Mark Briggs, a Senior Vice President of Sports & Entertainment Health & Security at Parsons spoke about how to create contingency plans with your staff and how to prepare for multiple scenarios down the road. As more venues and stadiums open, Mark noted that it is still unclear whether there will be enough fully trained staff to meet the demands of the public. With many people losing jobs in the opening month of the pandemic, many previously employed part-time workers may have moved on, which has created a potential gap between fully trained workers that are available to fill staffing needs. Briggs detailed how the combination of the number of staff members and the need to adhere to safety guidelines has the potential to turn into a roadblock for the sports industry later on. 

Check back in tomorrow for the next blog recap in the “Prepping for The Return of Fans!” Summit series!

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