Super Bowl LV had the lowest attendance in history, the Australian Open was admitting 30,000 people (until today) and NYPopsUp is bringing live back to New York

Super Bowl LV saw the lowest attendance in history, but was it low enough?

Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was nearly filled to it’s 65,000 person capacity. Granted, “only” (for lack of a better word) 25,000 of those seats were filled with actual humans; they were accompanied by 30,000 cardboard cutouts. For those of you who hate math, that’s just below 40% capacity. Details are a little vague but it’s unclear and seems unlikely that this number includes staff and vendors. It has been stated, basically everywhere (yup, including here), that 7500 of the attendees were vaccinated healthcare workers who were given tickets in gratitude for their hard work and dedication over this past year. Regardless of your feelings about the attendance, it will be interesting to see what, if any consequences will occur as a result.

Super Bowl

Let’s shift gears and talk about the halftime show. Back in December there was still some uncertainty about whether or not The Weeknd’s performance would take place in the same stadium as the game. It turns out...it did, but he was largely confined to performing in the stands. COVID regulations and distancing requirements made it impossible to make the quick transition from field to stage and back again so the 12-minute performance consisted of a stage in the rafters, a backstage performance and a brief finale directly on the field.

This is a great example of how the event industry is able to shift and adapt. Cardboard cutouts were used in an attempt to keep fans abiding by social distancing guidelines, masks were distributed at the entrances (whether people chose to wear them is another story), and the halftime show was adapted to reduce the amount of staff needed for the show to go on.

Oh yeah, if you haven’t heard, the Bucs won.

Speaking of love…the Australian Open is underway

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the Australian Open began over the weekend. Despite early concerns about a possible spread caused by international participants arriving with the virus, the tournament is on and operating at full capacity. Nearly 18,000 people attended opening day and many more are expected over the course of the 2 week showdown.

Australian Open

Even with the low rate of transmission and risk being relatively non-existent in the country, there have still been measures put in place to ensure the safety of attendees and participants. Players and staff have been quarantining in bubbles and will remain doing so throughout the tournament, masks are required except when seated or outside and the venue has been separated into 3 different zones to make contact tracing easier should the need arise.

UPDATE: In a vastly different approach to the US, a 5-day lockdown just announced in Melbourne means the Open will be played without spectators until at least Thursday of next week. Safety first!

Spring & Summer performing arts series, NYPopsUp kicks off next week  

Save the date New Yorkers, beginning on February 20 and running through September 6, New York is holding a statewide festival with more than 300 performances expected. That’s a full 100 days of culture for those of you counting. On second thought, that’s a lot of dates...maybe don’t jot that down in your calendars. Unfortunately, show locations will not be announced in advance in order to reduce the size of gathering crowds; we’ll keep our fingers crossed that you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a few.

New York City

Zack Winokur, an artist himself, is the man behind the whole project showcasing a variety of talented individuals all across the state’s performing arts scene. Artists will be performing in all sorts of locations from parks to transit stations, museums to street corners and in pre-designated “flex venues”, which are establishments that are free of fixed seats. The series will culminate in the 20th Tribeca Film Festival and the Festival at Little Island at Pier 55. The best part? You won’t have to dig deep into that wallet of yours since most of the events will be free to enjoy.  

Governor Andrew Cuomo is hopeful that the project will successfully set the stage for the safe restart of the entertainment industry as a whole. Alongside the announcement of NY PopsUp, he made a statement about hoping to reopen Broadway and other venues soon. Testing and capacity limits will be just a couple of the requirements but the goal is to pave the way for reopening.