Sports Sig

One day after Pinnacle Bank Arena had announced it would open for a socially-distanced watch party for Nebraska football’s season opener against Ohio State, the venue is reversing course.

According to a press release, Tom Lorenz, the general manager of Pinnacle Bank Arena, notified local health department officials today that the arena would not open to the public on Oct. 24 as previously announced due to COVID-19 concerns.

“As we’ve learned, the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and with the current high number of cases and hospitalizations, we reconsidered this event,” Lorenz said. “We have worked with the Health Department to successfully and safely hold other events, and plan to continue that cooperation for future events at PBA.”

The watch party, which was met with backlash on social media, planned on seating fans in “pods” to minimize close contact, requiring masks at all times, sanitizing the arena before fans entered and requiring temperature checks for all staff members.

The event was slated to be free to the public and open its doors an hour before the 11 a.m. kickoff. Lorenz said in the press release that the event would have had limited attendance, and social distance and mask guidelines would’ve been followed.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird expressed her pleasure with Lorenz’s decision to cancel the event, citing the priority of keeping patrons safe.

“I appreciate and support the decision to cancel this watch event,” Mayor Baird said. “It’s another example of Tom and his staff at Pinnacle Bank Arena modifying events with a priority for the safety of patrons and performers.”

Pinnacle Bank Arena opened to the public for the first time since COVID-19 hit full force in early October, when the venue hosted the Professional Bull Riders Wrangler Invitational on Oct. 3 and 4 in front of a limited crowd.