While some people have speculated that in-person concerts wouldn’t return until the fall or 2021, the 1,150-capacity TempleLive in Fort Smith, Ark., is prepping to host a socially distanced concert next week with a “COVID operating protocol in place” for future events to meet CDC guidelines, including selling tickets in seating groups or “fan pods.”
Travis McCready, the frontman for Bishop Gunn, is set to take the stage May 15 for an “intimate solo acoustic show.” Intimate isn’t a hyperbole, with capacity for the event reduced 80% to 229.
To keep fans safely distanced, the venue is keeping six feet of separation between seating groups or fan pods, with tickets sold in groups of 2, 4, 6, 8, 12 and 13. Single seats are not available.
A post on the TempleLive’s website, as well as the event info on the concert’s Ticketmaster listing, explains that the venue will be sanitized prior to the event by fog sprayers, the temperature of attendees will be taken at entry points and the walk-ways into the theatre will be managed by Temple Live employees, who will be actively wiping down touch points in the venue and restrooms. Masks are required for all employees and attendees, with masks available for purchase.
The bathrooms, which will be limited to 10 people, will feature no-touch soap and paper towel dispensers.
Guidelines are also in place for F&B, with all beverages prepackages or including lids.
While it seems the venue has thought of just about everything to operate concerts in line with health guidelines, there are a few details that still need approval. Although the venue’s capacity has been greatly reduced, it is still much higher than the state guidelines for reopening large venues – which aren’t even supposed to kick into place until three days after the Travis McCready show is scheduled.
The concert was announced a few weeks ago and tickets went on sale April 27, before Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had even announced details for reopening large venues. During his daily COVID-19 press conference on May 5 Hutchinson announced that “indoor venues such as theaters, arenas, stadiums, and auction houses that are designed for large groups may reopen on May 18 on a limited basis,” according to a release on Arkansas.gov. Venues will be allowed to “open for audiences of fewer than 50 and that requires strict social distance among performers, contestants, and members of the audience.” Performers must stay at least 12 feet from the audience. Outdoor spaces, where physical distancing of at six feet or more is easily achieved, were allowed to open May 4. The announcement notes that announcement is not intended for houses of worship, which have a separate guidance.
“If you are a church, there are no restrictions on how many people you can have inside as long as they follow CDC guidelines and stay six feet apart,” GM Mike Brown told Billboard. “So our position is, a public gathering is a public gathering regardless of the reason, whether you are going to go to a quilting event, a church or a concert. Tell me the difference, because in our opinion it is discriminatory.”
He added that he has an “open line of communication” with the state department and is an eternal optimist.
TempleLive initially announced March 19 that all planned events until the end of May had been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other shows on the books include Ronnie Milsap Aug. 22, Tech N9ne Sept. 4 and The Cadillac Three Sept. 10.
Reports submitted to Pollstar’s Boxoffice include a March 1 show by Cody Jinks that sold 1,046 tickets and grossed $72,445.
Pollstar has reached out to TempleLive for comment.