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Large Scale Sporting Events Open Doors for the Return of Live Events

Look at our Event Tracker Map – there is Green throughout the US! And coming this summer and early fall, hopefully every US city will be Green. Which city do you think will be the next one to turn Green? Even bigger news, in Europe we are beginning to see the return of key conferences and tradeshows. The global events industry is keeping a close eye on Barcelona with some upcoming events of scale. We are cheering on the organizers of these Spanish events.

A trend we continue to monitor is the sporting events industry leading the way in the return of large crowds. Although Hélio Castroneves won the race at the Indianapolis 500, it was the behind-the-scenes team at the Indianapolis 500 that put on a spectacular event and broke their record for the largest crowd post-pandemic – with more than 135,000 spectators – Wow!

Other notable sporting events with fans:

Canelo vs. Billy Joe Saunders World Title Boxing Match

73,126 attendees @ ATT Stadium in Arlington, Texas (between Dallas and Ft Worth)

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Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky

48,000 spectators

Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland

10,000 spectators

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NHL Playoffs

  • For the US Hockey teams in the playoffs, all teams are allowing at least 50% occupancy.

  • And, for the first time, the Canadian teams are allowing fans in the stands! This is big news for Canada which we’ve not seen any city turn Yellow on our Event Tracker map. Next up, the return of conferences and trade shows?


NBA Playoffs

  • Every team is allowing fans to cheer on their teams. We see a strong correlation between fans in stands and the return of live events We, therefore, are keeping a keen eye on NBA cities that are currently Red on our map.

  • Good news for LA and NYC - the LA Clippers are at 25% fan occupancy, the LA Lakers at 33%, and New York Knicks at 75% fan occupancy.

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MLB Season

  • Fans are in full force out enjoying baseball, hot dogs, and cold beers! Many stadiums are at full capacity and it’s great to see fans in attendance in Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. We are hoping that the Toronto Blue Jays’ make it home to Toronto soon. For now, due to cross-border travel restrictions, the team resides in Buffalo, New York. In their temporary home in New York, they have 35% capacity at home games which equates to roughly 5,810 fans.

  • On June 15, overall capacity will increase to 45% at roughly 7,470 fans, with 66% of seat occupancy in fully vaccinated sections, and 34% seat occupancy in physically distanced pods for non-vaccinated sections.

French Open

  • The French Open is France’s first sporting event to allow fans. Although not at full capacity (it varies as the tournament advances), this is great news for the event industry in France. I am sure the organizers of Wimbledon are in attendance and watching closely as they look to bring fans back in the stands.

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Vegas is hot! I’m not only talking about the Golden Knights in the NHL Playoffs, but also tradeshows, conferences, and events rolling into Vegas to get the convention city heated up. At GES, our team has been busy with shows and preparing for some large events later this summer and fall.

At some point, we should all write a thank you letter to the head of these sporting events to express our gratitude for leading the way in safely bringing back attendees to large events, including tradeshows and conferences.


Stay tuned for more cities turning Green over the summer.

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Wendy Gibson | Chief Marketing Officer, Global Marketing

Wendy is an accomplished leader with 25 years of experience leading marketing for fast-paced, high-growth companies. She’s passionate about global brand and marketing strategies and has an unwavering focus on voice of the customer. As Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy manages a global team including branding, digital marketing, demand generation, lead generation, line-of-business marketing, corporate marketing, social and digital strategies, client services and exhibitor services.


Hopefully, the Event Tracker will provide some level of insight into what’s occurring at ground level around the world in trade show cities.

We can always use your help in letting us know what you are seeing in one of these global cities. We’ve included a feedback button feedback button to share local, feet on the ground information with our team.


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