Superbowl LV Halftime Show

by Dayna Enalls

It’s hard to imagine what one of the industry’s most iconic events of the year would look like amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether you watched from the comfort of your own home or you were one of the lucky few who secured tickets to the Superbowl – you know the feeling of anticipation leading up the Halftime Show. The Superbowl LV Halftime Show with The Weeknd as the headliner was a unique event to say the least. So unique in fact that The Weeknd’s performance will be featured in a documentary on Showtime later this year. This already complex logistical event became even more complicated with Covid-19 restrictions.

The halftime show had to adapt from being one of the major events of the year with a large crowd & production crew to an event that still appeared like a major event with a socially distanced crowd and a fraction of the production crew. About 25,000 socially distanced fans were in attendance for the game which is about 1/3 of Raymond James Stadium’s Capacity. One of the apparent changes to the Superbowl LV Halftime Show was that there was not a rush of fans and crew members running onto the field when the show started. In addition, all the performers on stage were socially distanced and/or wore masks for protection. The masks also fit into the Weeknd’s Halftime Show theme of toxic Hollywood culture and celebrities and influencers manipulating themselves for validation.

To simplify the transition from the game to the show, the stage was built into the stands instead of on the field. Although there is a smaller crew putting together the halftime show, the bathroom trailers used three times more water than usual because of increased hand washing and sanitization. Leading up to the event, the production crew visited a tent outside of Raymond James Stadium to receive Covid-19 nasal swab testing. Staff members were getting tested every 24-48 hours leading up to gameday. Each morning before reporting to work, crew members were required to complete a health screening form on their smartphones. If cleared, crew members would receive a color-coded wristband – a new color was used every day so no one can wear the previous day’s wristband undetected.

Another logistical challenge was to figure out how to pick staff & crew members up from the airport and transport them to and from the hotel. The event management team at Diversified Production Services would usually pack everyone into a van or bus and head to the hotel, but with Covid-19 restrictions – this was not possible. Instead, the company rented more than 300 cars to transport everyone safely. Production crews have been working outside of the stadium in 50ft long office trailers to prepare for the halftime show. These trailers had the capacity to hold 20 people but have been limited to 6 people due to pandemic restrictions. They also used socially distant dining tents where crew members ate prepackaged food. In the dining area, when the chairs were leaning up against the tables, that was the signal that the table and chairs have been sanitized and were ready for use. When a crew member entered a new part of the stadium or office area, their credentials were scanned for contact tracing reasons in case someone in their vicinity tested positive for Covid-19. There were also contingency plans in place in case a vital employee must quarantine. An employee that had significant responsibility was assigned an understudy who was ready to take their place if necessary.

Aside from the Covid-19 restrictions, the Superbowl LV Halftime Show appeared seamless. “It’s going to be a different show, but it’s going to be a live show” said Jana Fleishman, Executive Vice President at Roc Nation who produced the halftime show. The show also provided event industry planners with a framework of best practices to utilize when planning large, live events. Large events like this give industry planners hope that they’ll be back to planning live events in just a matter of time.