South Dakota bucks against COVID-19 as it welcomes spectators back to the stands

South Dakota News

Tyler Bingham rides a bull in the Monster Energy Team Challenge in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday.July 10, 2020, as Professional Bull Riders welcomed just over 1,000 fans into the arena that usually holds 9,000. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP/KCAU) – As COVID-19 numbers rise across the nation, South Dakota continues bucking the trend by encouraging fans to partake in events across the state.

Last week, South Dakota hosted President Trump and over 7,000 live spectators in the Black Hills as they took in the July 4 spectacle at the base of Mount Rushmore.

President Donald Trump, accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, stands during the national anthem with a flyover by the U.S. Navy Blue Angles at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Friday, July 3, 2020, near Keystone, S.D. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The state says any increase in recent COVID-19 numbers can’t yet be attributed to that event.

A week later in Sioux Falls, the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center hosted the Professional Bull Riders and its championship event for the Monster Energy Team Challenge.  It’s one of the first American indoor events allowing fans since the pandemic began, and the first event at the PREMIER Center since March.

Tyler Bingham rides a bull in the Monster Energy Team Challenge in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday, July 10, 2020, as Professional Bull Riders welcomed just over 1,000 fans into the arena that usually holds 9,000. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

Taking proper precautions was the primary focus of venue staff as they worked to create a path of normalcy for fans of bull riding.  In addition to extra signage and cleaning, more hand sanitizing stations, limited concessions and digital-only ticketing, the 9,000-seat arena utilized “pod seating” to safely welcome over 1,000 fans to the indoor seats.  

A little more than a thousand fans were on hand in a 9,000-seat arena in Sioux Falls, S.D., Friday, July 10, 2020, to watch one of the first indoor professional sporting events since the coronavirus pandemic began. (AP Photo/Stephen Groves)

Pod seating places two groups of two or more spectators in one row, making it so groups don’t have to walk around other groups to leave the row.  Using pod seating lowered potential attendance for the event by approximately 40 percent.  

Until Friday’s event in Sioux Falls, the month-long competition played out before empty stands for the last four weeks at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas.  

The event continues this weekend.  Fans can purchase tickets here.

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