Professional Bull Riders has set a meaningful industry precedent by ushering in the return of fans at indoor arenas in the United States in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
A little more than 1,000 fans reportedly attended the 9,000-seat Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on July 10, on the opening day of the climax to the newly-created PBR Monster Energy Team Challenge.
Health and safety protocols included pod seating, social distancing, complimentary face masks for all fans, a focus on cashless transactions, and thorough arena sanitization. Merchandise sales were limited to bestsellers only to speed up the shopping process.
The riders certainly relished the presence of spectators for the first time since PBR returned from its enforced hiatus in April.
“It does feel a lot cooler when you get to ride your bull and step off and you’ve got people screaming your name,” PBR rider Ezekiel Mitchell told the Associated Press. “It’s like nothing else, really. Just to be able to bring light to what a lot of people think of as a dark time in America just to be able to lighten the mood and make somebody’s day is amazing.”
The Endeavor-owned PBR became one of the sports industry’s first-movers in the return from the health crisis when it staged a closed-door event in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in late April.