Events at the CHI Health Center have been postponed due to Covid-19

Lily Labs, Staff Writer

Before Covid-19, many people loved attending their favorite bands’ concerts. Now, because of the crowded and compact nature of these events, they have been rescheduled or canceled completely. 

Kristyna Engdahl is the Director of Communications and spokesperson for the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA), which is the company that manages the CHI Health Center arena. Her job entails coordinating media relations and sending announcements regarding concerts and sporting events. 

“On March 12, 2020 Blake Shelton was moving into the building for his sold-out performance. He decided to postpone his concert just hours before showtime,” Engdahl says. This was the first postponement that was made at CHI. Since then, about 50 events taking place in either the arena or the convention center have been rescheduled or canceled due to Covid-19. She says “the large events industry hasn’t been the same since.” 

The cancellations of concerts and sporting events were of course met with disappointment. Though, Engdahl says, “Most people understand that we must do what’s best for public health and the wellbeing of our community.” 

Part-time staff at CHI have been limited due to Covid, and 1/3 of their staff have been temporarily released until sometime before spring. Rules to ensurthe safety of those entering the premises have been implemented, such as face masks, social distancing, hand sanitizerand participation in contactless temperature screenings before entrance. 

“We’ve increased our sanitization teams and our custodial staff has done an excellent job adopting the latest cleaning technology and techniques,” Engdahl says, “We’re also transitioning to mobile ticketing only and a cash-free environment.” 

Revenue has also been negatively affected by the virus and lack of events at CHI. “We generated a $178 thousand profit last fiscal year, and for reference, that number was $4.5 million the previous fiscal year,” says Engdahl, “Community attendance, which is usually about a million, was 585 thousand people last fiscal year.” It was a normal year up until March, when the pandemic hit. 

Although the arena is closed, the convention center has been able to host multiple small gatherings, being socially distanced of course. “In February we’ll have three club volleyball tournaments in our exhibition halls and the Home & Garden Exposition is scheduled for February too,” Engdahl says. 

The venue is slowly opening back up for events, working with Covid regulations to ensure a safe environment. “Creighton Men’s Basketball returned in limited capacity in December of 2020,” says Engdahl, They’re currently having 10% capacity of fans in the arena, working towards 25%. Other upcoming events include NCAA volleyball in April and the USA Swim Trials in June. As of now, the next concert is The Weekend on Aug. 22.