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Yankee Stadium earns safety accolades

@BryanHoch
August 27, 2020

NEW YORK -- Eleven years after its gates first opened, Yankee Stadium is continuing to earn recognition as a world-class facility. The Yankees proudly announced on Wednesday that their home is the first sports and entertainment venue to achieve the coveted WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. The

NEW YORK -- Eleven years after its gates first opened, Yankee Stadium is continuing to earn recognition as a world-class facility. The Yankees proudly announced on Wednesday that their home is the first sports and entertainment venue to achieve the coveted WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management.

The International WELL Building Institute (IWBI) recognized that the Yankees have fulfilled numerous health and safety standards to proactively address COVID-19 prevention as well as overall health and safety. According to the IWBI, the Yankees are appropriately prepared to accommodate the reintroduction of fans when approved by Major League Baseball and local government authorities.

Doug Behar, the Yankees’ senior vice president of stadium operations, said that it was a “long and uncompromising road” to receive the rating, which gives the organization confidence that they are taking appropriate preventative measures to support the health and safety of the players, field staff, employees -- and eventually fans.

“For us, it seems logical to keep those in place forever,” Behar said. “We’re talking about cleaning and disinfection. This goes beyond COVID-19. We have flu season upon us. We’ve realized that it’s simple and safe enough for us to do. It’s something that we see being in place for the future.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yankees strengthened their strategies in the categories of air and water quality management, cleaning and sanitization procedures, emergency preparedness programs, health service resources and stakeholder engagement and communications.

As one example, Behar pointed to a low-dose hydrogen peroxide system that has been incorporated into the stadium ventilation system, similar to what is used in many hospitals. That air is fed into areas like the players’ clubhouse, weight room, training room and umpires’ room, killing bacteria and pathogens in the air.

Behar said that the Yankees believe those advances have prepared Yankee Stadium for the reintroduction of fans. While the Yankees have internally prepared plans to allow spectators at games, they are waiting on clearance from Major League Baseball and local government agencies, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“This is all about being prepared,” Behar said. “We’re following the lead of our Commissioner and the Governor on what comes next. We wanted to be as prepared as possible, to have confidence that we’re doing the right things to be ready.”

Launched in June and created by IWBI, the WELL Health-Safety Rating is informed by guidance developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), global disease control and prevention centers and emergency management agencies, recognized standard-making bodies, such as ASTM International and ASHRAE, and leading academic and research institutions.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating achieved by the Yankees is an evidence-based, third-party verified rating for all new and existing buildings and spaces. The Yankees joined more than 100 organizations, encompassing over 500 facilities, that enrolled in the documentation-based program at launch and that have begun implementing its scientific guidance.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored to companies in every sector how critically important it is to be prepared for a crisis,” said Rick Fedrizzi, IWBI’s chairman and CEO. “The Yankees have demonstrated outstanding leadership by taking immediate and thoughtful action to help support the health and safety of their players, fans and employees. We are proud to celebrate this achievement with the Yankees.”

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.