Anaheim Convention Center Holds First Event Since Start of Pandemic

April 23, 2021 Updated: April 25, 2021

The Anaheim Convention Center is set to host its first non-medical event since February 2020, before the onslaught of the pandemic.

It will be the backdrop of a Starpower Talent dance competition April 23 through April 25, as part of the company’s regional tour. The event is expected to bring more than 500 attendees.

The president and chief executive of Visit Anaheim, which controls bookings at the convention center, said people are excited for the return of action at the center.

“We always knew sports and amateur sports would be the first market to come back,” Jay Burress told The Epoch Times. “Both because of the guidelines from the state, as well as the resiliency in the market, and just really the pent-up demand of parents and their kids wanting to get out into these competitions. So, we’ll see more of that coming up throughout the summer months.”

The ability to hold events at the center again comes as the state’s guidelines on reopening allows for indoor and outdoor youth and recreational adult sports in the “orange” tier, which Orange County is currently in.

“I view it as the start of the comeback, because it is,” Burress said. “We have to start somewhere and it’s a small group, but this will keep some people employed, it will bring business in the city and it just sends a signal to the event organizers everywhere that California is back open for business in the meetings and events world.”

According to Burress, the center will be primarily booking sports events for the next few months because typical conventions take a long time to plan, and they have a lot of sudden availability due to the pandemic. The first actual convention, a design and manufacturing exhibition, is scheduled for August.

Given that the convention center is the largest one on the West Coast with more than 1 million square feet of exhibit space, it will have plenty of room for physical distancing, he added.

During its downtime, the convention center has been used as Orange County’s largest super point of dispensing site. It will continue to offer that service, as well as some COVID testing until April 30, while hosting events.

Those running the event said they have taken extensive steps to allow attendees to feel confident about returning to the center. Efforts have included enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, the installation of personal protection equipment, face coverings on employees and guests, physical distancing, and more.

The center will also be capped at 25 percent capacity.

Additional events at the convention center are on the horizon. The Orange County Sports Commission has booked another dancing event and a fencing league in May, and a boys and girls volleyball club in June. An additional dance contest is scheduled for July.

Visit Anaheim is looking to get back on track to hosting more than 1 million visitors at the center a year, Burress said, adding it will likely be a few years before that is able to happen.

Follow Drew on Twitter: @DrewVanVoorhis