Phoenix Suns unveil frenzy of public health theater to pretend they can keep fans safe from viruses

Suns incorporating changes to arena renovations with COVID-19 in mind,” that sounds like a promising headline! Perhaps we will learn more about what our post-pandemic sports future could be like — personal plexiglass booths around each seat? — and how the Phoenix Suns owners are spending that $168 million in taxpayer money the city council gifted them last year. What’s the deets, Arizona Sports 98.7 FM?

“What we’re looking at is technology and how we can utilize technology to improve that sanitation level,” Suns president and CEO Jason Rowley said Tuesday. “Make people more comfortable with maybe going cashless … making sure your escalators have UV lighting that kills viruses and bacteria and all those things … hiring outside professionals who can come in and do audits of the building to make sure that any high touchpoints (can be safer).”

I don’t think Rowley actually means “going cashless,” since things like debit-card touchpads are stews of microbes. Presumably he means going contactless, which lots of people seem to be doing already for their purchases, but I guess if this encourages the Suns to install lots of Venmo routers or whatnot, that’s probably a smart move regardless.

As for UV lighting on escalators, that’s not a terrible idea either, though the Centers for Disease Control continue to note that you’re way more at risk from other people than from surfaces they touched, so riding an escalator alongside thousands of other fans is way more of a concern than touching the same escalator railing as them. But if UV lights make fans feel safer, then bring on the public health theater!

So, what else we got?

That even goes as far as putting down antimicrobial paint, which makes it more difficult for things to stick and bacteria to linger.

Apparently antimicrobial paint can be very effective against bacteria, which is somewhat less helpful in our current situation given that viruses aren’t bacteria. (Both are considered “microbes,” which literally just means “really small living things,” even though viruses aren’t really living things. Maybe.) Some companies are experimenting with antiviral paints, it looks like, but it looks to be too soon whether you can stop Covid with a paint sprayer. And, of course, there’s still that pesky problem of fans not wanting to have their mouths painted shut.

So, no, it looks like this was just an article about a bored sports reporter getting an interview with the local team exec, and the exec mumbled some stuff about miracle paint, and hey look, there’s something to file today to keep your editor happy! (Ha ha ha, like anyone still has editors.) It does seem like an indication that team execs are moving swiftly ahead into the public health theater phase of things, where they’re going to have to convince fans that they’re using high tech to keep them safe from germs just like they convinced fans they were using high tech to keep them safe from terrorists, either because they’re afraid of fans staying home otherwise or because they want to cover their butts in case of lawsuits should something bad happen. This really should be considered part of the team’s marketing budget rather than its construction budget, but it’s harder to charge marketing costs to the city council, so UV-lighted escalators it is!

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4 comments on “Phoenix Suns unveil frenzy of public health theater to pretend they can keep fans safe from viruses

  1. So the Canadian Premier League is considering playing their season in a single location like a few US leagues are considering. The interesting wrinkle is that without spectators they are open to exploring options that do not really have much room for spectators. So Prince Edward Island is the leading candidate despite the biggest stadium at UPEI looking like this: (they have nothing but open youth soccer fields in the rest of the province). Maybe stadiums and arenas without seating, luxury boxes, and deluxe amenities that cost 1% of old options are the new future!

    Before you argue that this would be fine for the CPL even with fans they do generally play for crowds between 3K and 9K.

    The MLS restart in Orlando in June would have dramatically fewer public health restrictions. The CPL plan has all players and staff quarantining for 2 weeks before coming to PEI and 2 weeks after arriving in PEI. The MLS is just packing them together and hoping no one gets sick. PEI has had 25 cases total on 0 hospitalizations and deaths. Orange County FL has had 1900 cases and 40 deaths (including evidence of suppressed data counts).

  2. I imagine you saw dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ comments about his belief that there will be fans in stadiums:

    And did you also catch that he has a plan to use his stadium (which he privately financed but gets huge incentives for major events from the local government) as a drive in movie theater?

    Strange times indeed.

  3. Well technically two people could be defined as “fans” so I guess it is possible and Stephen Ross would be correct.

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