Pinnacle Bank Arena officials have scrapped plans to host a watch party for the Ohio State-Nebraska football game Oct. 24.
Initial plans for the event announced Tuesday drew concern on social media, where critics questioned the prudence of convening people indoors as transmission of COVID-19 and hospitalizations remain high in Lincoln and across the state.
Tom Lorenz, who manages the arena, announced the about-face Wednesday afternoon.
“As we’ve learned, the COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable, and with the current high number of cases and hospitalizations, we reconsidered this event,” Lorenz said in a statement. “We have worked with the Health Department to successfully and safely hold other events, and plan to continue that cooperation for future events."
In announcing plans for the watch party Tuesday, Lorenz said the arena would limit attendance and staff would enforce the mask mandate and keep attendees socially distanced.
Scott Holmes, who oversees the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department's environmental public health division, cautioned the public Tuesday about getting concerned about the event simply because it was associated with Husker football, noting the arena had held successful, safe events with the cooperation of the Health Department amid the pandemic.
Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, who Tuesday had also expressed confidence in the arena's ability to safely put on a watch party, said in a statement Wednesday that she appreciated Lorenz's decision.
“It’s another example of Tom and his staff at Pinnacle Bank Arena modifying events with a priority for the safety of patrons and performers,” she said.