SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — It was an unusual sight in these even stranger times: Fans in the stands for a live sporting event.
"Thankful for all the fans today, your support is very important for us," Bull Rider Jose Vitor Leme said.
"If we can create a memorable experience for one fan, in that arena, we won," PBR Chief Marketing Officer Kosha Irby said. "Everyone felt like it was a flowing success and it's a model we can build upon and bring to other cities."
After months of preparation, the Professional Bull Riders put together a comprehensive crowd plan to make the Sioux Falls Invitational possible at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.
"We looked at everything from how we park cars at specific venues, how fans get into the venue and receive tickets, to how they sit in the pod models we created," Irby said.
Nearly 6,000 spectators took part during the three-day "Team Challenge" event this past weekend. Fans were expected to have their temperature taken prior to entering, practice social distancing upon entry, sit in outlined pods, and adhere to all necessary health protocols.
"From a live sports perspective we're looking at this as the "Driveway-Plus Three" and what that means is we look at three days prior to the event and three days after the event and build our plan to address all of those," Irby said.
One of the first professional leagues to attempt the re-entrance of an audience, can the PBR continue to buck a COVID-19 pandemic that is sweeping our nation?
"We learned some things out of Sioux Falls that we're going to put in place for Bismarck," Irby said. "We'll learn some things in Bismarck that we can put in place for the next stop which would be Salt Lake City."
With the second half of the premier series schedule revealed, the organization is taking it one event at a time.
"Doing it the best way we know-how, the "Cowboy Way"," Irby said. "We're just going to put our head down, keep working, and do what's best for our fellow humans."