Lee Igel, clinical professor, and Elizabeth Haas, adjunct instructor, at the NYU SPS Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, recently co-authored a Fast Company article with Arthur Caplan, founding head of the Division of Medical Ethics at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Richard Florida, one of the world’s leading urbanists and a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. The piece, titled “The Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic? Sports Stadiums,” discusses the sometimes unrecognized, critical role that sports stadiums have played in helping to combat the pandemic worldwide. It also shares enlightening research insights from the Tisch Institute’s collaboration with the United States Conference of Mayors.
For over 10 years, the Tisch Institute has conducted more than 200 projects with the U.S. Conference of Mayors – Mayors Professional Sports Alliance, focusing on how and why sports matters to cities, communities, and society.
According to Igel, “Our partnership with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, from the start, has taken in-depth looks at not just the economic impact of stadiums, but the social impact of these venues in cities. The pandemic, with so much happening in so many places, has given us a remarkable moment to understand and demonstrate the real value of stadiums to our cities and to society.”
The Tisch Institute’s research uncovered that in the U.S., more than 26 NFL stadiums, 30 MLB ballparks, and a host of NBA, WNBA, NHL, MLS, and NWSL venues have been used as COVID-19 vaccination sites, resulting in millions of people receiving vaccines across the country. The work with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which has not yet been published, found that stadiums played a significant role in getting the vaccine to less-advantaged minority communities. While Black and Hispanic Americans are less likely to be vaccinated than white Americans, minority populations were vaccinated at stadiums at rates that were much closer to the national average.
The research reinforced the reality that stadiums and the sports teams that play in them forge a strong emotional bond with their communities. Fans see stadiums as part of their community’s identity and a place to mobilize people, especially in times of crisis.
“With the threat of the Delta variant looming, and the need for a third dose of vaccines on the horizon, stadiums will continue to play a role in providing a place of comfort and convenience as communities battle the challenges of the pandemic that lie ahead. It also means that our students will continue to have opportunities for helping sports and cities make a difference,” concluded Haas.