Playing Through A Pandemic
One of the industries with the most notable change due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been sports & entertainment. In 2020, major sports leagues across North America including the National Basketball Association (NBA), National Hockey League (NHL), and Major League Soccer (MLS) saw teams finish out the season in professional bubbles while Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL) played to reduced crowds or empty arenas. We saw stadiums that are usually packed with 20,000+ fans filled with cardboard cutouts or replaced with digital screens where fans could join in to feature themselves virtually.
As the calendar turned towards the 2020-2021 season and fan limitations still in effect, North American teams across the NBA and NHL were presented with the challenge of operating without the steady source of revenue – tickets and concessions sales. Many of these teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs, had to come up with a way to make up for these lost revenue streams. The answer lay with their corporate partners and new advertising spaces created by the absence of fans. ICON was tasked by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) with producing seat graphics that would cover entire sections of the lower bowl that featured logos of teams’ corporate partners. Fabric graphics were printed and installed with custom tension systems that would keep the graphics taut and flush. The seat graphics system produced by ICON was met with high praise from other teams resulting in similar graphics produced for the Brooklyn Nets, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Toronto Raptors in their temporary home in Florida.