Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
When the coronavirus pandemic struck and sports were shuttered, hundreds of venues suddenly became sleeping giants.
Why it matters: Some have since been repurposed, and it's fascinating to watch America's sports cathedrals — often among the largest and most prominent structures in their respective cities — take on new roles.
- Some of those changes are temporary, but others could fundamentally change how communities view and use sports venues.
What they're saying: Sports architect Matt Rossetti touched on that last point in an interview with The Athletic:
"What I think and what I hope is [sports venues] will become more wedded to the fabric of cities, so they're no longer standalone facilities that light up only when there are events. ... There should be civic uses ... so they become more part of a community rather than a folly for billionaires."
- Outdoor dining: The Pawtucket Red Sox (Triple-A affiliate) created "Dining on the Diamond," a 33-table restaurant on the outfield grass of their soon-to-be old home, McCoy Stadium (see above).
- Hospital overflow: Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena, former home of the Kings, and NYC's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, where the U.S. Open is held, were both set up as makeshift field hospitals.
- Airbnb: The Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Twins Double-A affiliate) listed their stadium on Airbnb, granting guests full access to the field and clubhouse.
- Voting sites: The Hawks, Pistons and Bucks have all offered their arenas as voting locations for the 2020 election. The idea is that large groups could pass through while staying six feet apart, but perhaps these massive, centrally-located venues will continue to be used for voting post-social distancing.
- Movie nights: Miami's Hard Rock Stadium has transformed into a drive-in movie theater, which has reemerged as a popular form of entertainment during the pandemic. There's no reason teams couldn't set up regular movie nights post-COVID.
The bottom line: Multiple stadiums across the country have turned some very sour lemons into lemonade during the pandemic, repurposing themselves and serving their communities, even as sporting events and concerts are on hold.