March 16, 2021

Safety is top priority as increased numbers of visitors come to FCCFA facilities

As more visitors return to the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority’s (FCCFA) facilities, they will see many changes to safeguard them against the COVID-19 infection.

From mobile and touchless ticketing to ultraviolet handrail cleaners on escalators, facilities are stepping up to make sure they are as clean and safe as possible.

“We’ve been extremely vigilant throughout the pandemic,” said Don Brown, executive director of the FCCFA, which owns Nationwide Arena, the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the Hilton Columbus Downtown and nearby convention parking facilities. “We’ve followed Centers for Disease Control and state and local health department guidelines closely, but those who manage our properties have also gone above and beyond.”

For example, Hilton Columbus Downtown is following Hilton International’s CleanStay program, a partnership with cleaning brands Lysol and Dettol. In addition to its normal cleaning regimen, Hilton Columbus Downtown, which has earned its CleanStay certification, is following the program closely through additional deep cleaning of common surfaces. The hotel also provides guests with disinfecting stations with wipes and hand sanitizer throughout the facility and disinfects high-touch areas such as elevators and bathrooms hourly. The hotel recently earned the highest customer satisfaction ratings for cleanliness and safety in the entire North American Hilton network.

Nationwide Arena, which is now allowed to fill Blue Jackets games to 25% capacity, is requiring fans to complete a health survey in advance of game attendance as an extra safeguard. Touchless ticketing with mobile scanning has replaced paper tickets. The Arena updated its HVAC system to hospital standards, equipping it with high-efficiency air filters that remove nearly 100% of airborne particles. Outside air circulates throughout the facility to complete three air changes per hour. Electrostatic sprayers using CDC-approved disinfectants are used before every event in high-use areas such as restrooms, concourses, elevators, concession areas and seating areas. A $300,000 CARES Act grant from Franklin County was used for these health and safety improvements.

Additionally, Arena suites are limited to no more than 10 occupants; plexiglass barriers reduce contact between fans and staff members; hand sanitizer is dispensed throughout the Arena; and as in all FCCFA facilities, all guests must wear masks, social-distance and avoid crowds. Nationwide Arena has earned Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ facility accreditation, which includes compliance with the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection and disease prevention.

The Convention Center is managed by ASM Global and adheres strictly to the company’s VenueShield program, which was designed for reactivating and operating venues in the COVID-19 environment. The program focuses on new and sustainable environmental hygiene protocols and standards. Escalator handrail sterilizers using UV light have been installed on all 21 center escalators, and all 16 elevators are now equipped with hospital-grade air sanitizers. Guests will find 24 walk-through body temperature and metal detectors, and portable air filtering machines provide additional protection inside meeting rooms and ballrooms.

Touchless ticketing provides no-hands parking tickets at all Convention Center parking entrances and 200+ hand sanitizer stations populate the building. The Convention Center also has earned Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ facility accreditation.

The FCCFA has invested $700,000 in CARES ACT funding from Franklin County and the City of Columbus in new safety measures within the Convention Center.

“While these steps have been taken as a result of COVID-19, we see their value on a longer-term basis,” Brown says. “As people return to our facilities in larger numbers, their health – and the health of those they come in contact with – will always be our highest priority.”


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