Could events come back by late October? Downtown Development District hopeful

Though the downtown fall events season is looking pretty bleak right now thanks to pandemic-related cancellations and postponements, businesses are holding out hope that the COVID-19 threat will dissipate enough by late October to make holding large events feasible again, says Gabriel Vicknair, interim executive director of the Downtown Development District.

A solid fall would help boost downtown businesses that suffered during previous waves of the coronavirus.

“Most downtown businesses really rely on the events season to make their year work financially,” he says.

The Live After Five concert series scheduled more shows than usual this fall to make up for the canceled spring season, only to be postponed during the latest resurgence of COVID-19. Vicknair hopes the shows can resume by late October, which in turn would make November and the holiday season look more promising.

“It’s going to be crucial that these (COVID-19) numbers start dropping significantly within the next couple weeks if we’re going to have any hope for any events in the fall or early winter,” he says.

Statewide, the seven-day average for deaths is now at an all-time high, surpassing the January 2021 surge and nearing numbers not seen since April 2020. Weekly new case counts have been trending downward since peaking around Aug. 15.

For businesses, Vicknair says he’s confident they’ll be able to sustain themselves through the surge as long as capacity restrictions are not reinstated.

And football season seems to be moving ahead regardless, which should be helpful for the hospitality business and hotels.

“There’s still football,” he says. “At least we still have that.”

This story originally appeared in an Aug. 26 edition of Daily Report. To keep up with Baton Rouge business and politics, subscribe to the free Daily Report e-newsletter here.