Loosening of sport spectator restrictions in Virginia expected to boost local economy

Loosening of sport spectator restrictions in Virginia expected to boost local economy

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Local businesses are expected to get a huge boost following a major change in crowd capacity that Governor Northam recently announced. Sports venues will be able to welcome more fans to games beginning in one week.

Sports fans have numerous reasons to head to Central Virginia. In fact, local tourism leaders see sporting events as one of the major draws to get more eyes on the Richmond region.

“We have over 90 events still scheduled to come to the region in 2021,” J.C. Poma, of Richmond Region Tourism, said.

Now more fans will be able to show up than they’ve been able to do since the start of the pandemic. Right now, only 1,000 people are allowed at big outdoor sporting venues. That will change come April 1 to allow a venue to operate at 30% of its total capacity. So let’s say a Virginia venue can usually welcome 60,000 people. Now some 18,000 people can show up. Even restrictions on smaller recreational sports venues are being eased a bit, largely because more people are being vaccinated in the Commonwealth.

“As these restrictions are lifted, it’s going to allow some of our region’s biggest venues like the Richmond Raceway, the Greater Richmond Convention Center, like River City SportsPlex, to allow even more fans and even more supporters,” Poma added.

If you ask local leaders, there’s a trickle-down effect.

“It benefits jobs. It keeps restaurants and it keeps people in jobs...We enjoy being a host. We enjoy when people come to our county, and they enjoy our restaurants and they enjoy our malls and our shopping scene and our dining scene,” Daniel Schmitt with the Henrico Board of Supervisors said.

He sees it as an opportunity to showcase the region.

“Why the region is a great place to come visit and let’s get ready to be those ambassadors, those hosts that we were before COVID. We can jump right in and do that now. We’re ready to go,” Schmitt added.

Richmond Tourism expects sports to bring a $70 million economic boost to our area just this year. A national survey of a thousand people found more than half are ready to return to watching sports in-person.

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