Local live events industry desperate for pathway to reopening

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego live event organizers are sounding the alarm on COVID-19 shutdowns which they say could threaten the future of their individual events.

In billboards across the city, the San Diego Event Coalition is urging state leaders to include events in the state’s color tier system with a pathway to reopening.

“All we’re asking for is either give us a pathway back, which is why we put up the billboards to say, ‘Help us start the conversation,’” Kevin Hellman of the San Diego Event Coalition said. “Or find some additional financial aid that can help us.”

To start, Hellman suggests safely hosting community events that have been forced to cancel in 2020 and 2021.

“Our industry is begging, pleading, reaching out saying, ‘It is last call. Come to the table and help us find that path back.’” he said. “I don’t care if you say it’s an event for 100 people. It’s a start.”

San Diego County remains in the state’s most restrictive purple tier. In the tier, live audience sports, live concerts — with the exception of drive-in concerts — and conventions, among others, must be closed while many other industries can operate in a limited capacity.

Some events, including Comic-Con and the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego marathon, already have announced alternative dates this year.

San Diego’s Gator by the Bay, held annually at Spanish Landing Park, canceled in 2020 and rescheduled to 2021. Last week, organizers decided to postpone again to May 2022 with no clear path for reopening the live event industry.

“We get one shot, we get four days (a year) and that’s it,” said Peter Oliver with Gator by the Bay. “But, boy, a whole lot of people depend on that. We sell a lot of hotel rooms, we sell a lot of food, we sell a lot of craft goods at our festival. Everybody’s out of work.”

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