The new coronavirus has forced the hand of event producers throughout the region with the postponement or cancellation of countless events in Lansing and beyond.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted a state of emergency Tuesday after announcing two people had tested positive for COVID-19.
A woman from Ingham County who recently returned from a cruise has now been diagnosed and is one of 10 COVID-19 cases in Michigan as of this writing.
A directive from Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. required all campus events involving over 100 people be postponed until further notice – those events included the Lansing Home & Garden Show at the MSU Pavilion and all events at the Kellogg Center, including the Wedding and LifeStyle Expo.
Also affected are hotels, restaurants, catering businesses, wedding photographers and myriad other venues like Wharton Center for the Performing Arts.
As for Wharton Center, while several performances are canceled, some remain on the schedule for the time being including “Wicked,” running through April 19. According to Bobby Hoffman, manager of public relations for the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, “Those who have purchased tickets from Wharton Center to any of the canceled events will receive information regarding refunds or rescheduled dates within the next several days. The ticket office is working diligently to ensure this process runs as smoothly as possible.”
Hoffman also said things are changing quickly as new information becomes available.
“At this time, we are focusing on keeping our patrons and staff safe,” Hoffman said. “We are working with agents representing each show to evaluate next steps. Employees are still working, and we have permission to work from home if needed.”
Nicole Dungey, producer of the now postponed Wedding and LifeStyle Expo at the Kellogg Center made the decision to postpone her event shortly before Stanley’s directive came.
“I immediately contacted multiple radio outlets to alert them of this change in order to mitigate significant loss of revenue,” Dungey said. She was able to reallocate funds for her final advertising campaign thanks to the goodwill of media outlets she was using, reducing the events loss by a few thousand dollars.
Canceling and postponing events can be catastrophic for event and expo producers.
“If we had to cancel altogether, the loss would have been significant,” Dungey said, adding “both monetarily speaking and including the impact on over 50 local Wedding and LifeStyle businesses who book events at this expo and rely on this revenue to sustain their business in the months ahead.”
The Wedding and LifeStyle Expo is rescheduled for May 17.
“I am extremely happy we were able to identify a new date for the expo and mitigate further fallout from this unprecedented outbreak,” Dungey said “These are, in fact, unchartered waters and we needed to act quickly.”
One of the biggest announcements came with the cancellation of the 2020 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, ending the careers of seniors including MSU’s Cassius Winston. Head coach Tom Izzo’s statement following the cancellation expressed his disappointment and understanding. In part, it read, “I feel most for our seniors, for guys like Cassius and Kyle and Conner, who wanted to have one last shot at March Madness. Telling them their career was over was extremely emotional. But these are unprecedented times and some things are bigger than basketball. The primary concern for all of us is the health and well-being of our students-athletes, staff and fans.”
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