Shouldn’t all publicly-funded stadiums become mass vaccination sites?

With the COVID rollout proceeding at a crawl, more sports stadiums should be available as vaccination sites.
With the COVID rollout proceeding at a crawl, more sports stadiums should be available as vaccination sites.
Image: Getty Images

The vaccine rollout hasn’t exactly happened at warp speed. So far, nearly 9 million Americans have received a first dose of the COVID shot. If we want to move faster, we may need super-centers and round-the-clock immunizations to accommodate the hundreds of millions of Americans still waiting to be vaccinated.

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I wonder where they could go? Where might you be able to move thousands through a centralized, socially distanced location? Where can hundreds of cars easily find parking spaces? What’s always accessible via public transportation? Sounds like your local stadium.

Just like November (and the Georgia runoffs), state governments and professional teams should do everything they can to offer vacant stadiums for public good. After all, we’re the ones who pay for the publicly funded stadiums. Why shouldn’t we be able to use them?

Well, it looks like we could start to soon. Today, NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a new mass-vaccination site at Citi Field, an $830.6 million stadium paid for with the help of $614.3 million in public money. The Mets ballpark will immunize thousands of New Yorkers a day. And it’s not just New York City. On Sunday night, the city of Los Angeles announced that Dodger Stadium would begin vaccinations this week. And two hours south, Petco Park will inoculate thousands at the Padres ballpark.

There are vaccination sites at State Farm Stadium (Arizona Cardinals) Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Dolphins) Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros) The Big House (University of Michigan Football) and more. Plus, Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium are expected to become vaccination sites for Massachusetts first responders this week.

But in a nation with so many empty and publicly funded stadiums, more sports sites should begin considering how they’ll help the community. The NFL has also already urged teams to offer their home fields for vaccination sites and President-elect Joe Biden will reportedly include sports stadiums in his vaccination plan, set to be formally announced on Thursday. According to research from Global Sport Matters at Arizona State University, the majority of US sports arenas use at least some public assistance to pay for pro stadiums.

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Wouldn’t it make sense if we, the public, actually got to use it?