Final Four under COVID – “We have developed scenarios with a 25% capacity and also with 0%”

2021-04-12T11:44:43+00:00 2021-04-12T11:44:43+00:00.

Aris Barkas

12/Apr/21 11:44

Eurohoops.net

Roser Queralto, Euroleague Basketball Chief Business Officer talked to Eurohoops about what we can expect of the Final Four

By Aris Barkas/ barkas@eurohoops.net

A Final Four without fans? It already happened in the NCAA and we may end up seeing it again in Europe. With the EuroLeague Final Four set to be held on the 28th of May in Cologne, Germany, there’s no scenario on the table for a full gym due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, as Roser Queralto, the Euroleague Basketball Chief Business Officer, said to Eurohoops, there’s still hope about having a 25% of Lanxess Arena capacity filled with fans, and EuroLeague is already prepared for any scenario, developing ways in which the basketball audience in Europe can enjoy the Final Four remotely.

First of all, we would like to know if you are satisfied with the current season?

We can never be satisfied while we do not have our fans in the arenas. This is obviously something we are missing a lot, but hope they can reunite with their teams in the stands as soon as possible.

Leaving that aside, we can say we are satisfied. It was hard to believe by many that the season would be completed, and after six months we are almost there. We are not there yet, but so far we are enormously satisfied with the work that teams, players, coaches, and other individuals have done to adapt to this changing situation. This includes many sacrifices they have made to ensure the season could move one as smoothly as possible.

On the court, the competition is delivering an unmatchable spectacle. Our teams are bringing us all the most competitive season in EuroLeague history, we are blessed to watch amazing games on a weekly basis where any team can beat any rival and standings are a clear reflection of the highly competitive level we are enjoying.
On the other hand, we are missing one of our main pillars, the incredible atmosphere that our fans provide on the stands during our games, but at the same time the main priority this season is the health and safety of all our stakeholders.

What are your plans for the Final Four?

Every year our expectations for the Final Four are the highest possible as millions of fans demand to receive the best possible experience and this hasn´t changed this season. Since last season’s cancellation, we have been working to bring the best event possible to our fans, evaluating hundreds of different scenarios but at the same time, we need to be realistic and assume that the Final Four that will be played next May at Cologne will not be a standard Final Four.

Under the current circumstances it will be very difficult to develop all the parallel activities we are offering our fans during the Final Four weekend, the Fan Zone and other projects we were planning to offer this season are already discarded as they are incompatible with the restrictions in place. Another successful event that attracts many basketball fans, the Adidas Next Generation Junior Tournament, is doubtful as the current local legislation doesn´t allow to organize non-professional sports competitions, but as said before many different scenarios are being evaluated as we plan to deliver our fans the best possible experience but in some cases with variations and alternatives.

Whatever the situation is with regards to health regulations, we are ready to provide fans with many more options to connect remotely with the event and its protagonists.

What about tickets, will the fans have the chance to attend the event?

This is our main concern as our fans are at the center of Euroleague Basketball. We have already informed our past Final Four ticket buyers of the current status of the event and the different measures we are putting in place to allow participants and potential attendees to enjoy it in the most comfortable and secure manner.

To assure the comfort and safety of all those who will be in the Lanxess Arena during the event, Euroleague Basketball has been in constant contact with the local authorities in Germany to plan for every possible scenario, developing protocols, setting extensive hygienic guidelines, and planning different scenarios based on the percentage of fans that may be allowed to access to the event.
We decided not to start selling tickets until we have all guarantees that a certain number of spectators will have the chance to access the arena as we didn´t want to create false expectations among our fans or disappoint them if finally presence of fans was prohibited. If the possibility to welcome fans finally exists we are ready to launch sales considering all necessary COVID-19 related measures that the general public will be made aware of in advance.

Being realistic and under the current circumstances it will be impossible to have an event with the 100% or 50% capacity, therefore we have developed scenarios where a 25% capacity may be filled and of course we also have ready a 0% scenario. With the current restrictions, the Final Four was to be played next week, the 0% scenario would be the most realistic.

It is our intention to announce during the following weeks the decision of the local authorities, which will be fully respected, informing our fans about the possibilities to attend physically the Final Four.

Don´t you think that if the final decision is to go to a 0% or 25% capacity model, many fans will be disappointed?

Yes, I agree that we will all be disappointed but at the same time we must be realistic and our main priority this season is health and safety.

As I said before even if this is going to be a different Final Four our expectations remain untouched. We are working on different projects around the digital and audio-visual ecosystem that will bring the Final Four to all our fans who can´t attend the event, enhancing their experience from their homes, bringing them extra access to behind-the-scenes moments never before seen, and offering an immersive experience.