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'Won't Feel The Same Way': Red Rocks Planning For Concerts With Much Smaller Capacity Levels

(CBS4) - Out for some exercise at Red Rocks, Stacey Hendry was thinking about sitting in the stands and using the tickets she's been holding for the Goo Goo Dolls.

"I think it's time," she said. "It has been hard to be patient."

Mumford & Sons performs at Re in 2012d Rocks
(credit: Michael Martin Photography/AEG Live)

Many of the people she cares about have been vaccinated. With hospitalizations and death rates falling, there are questions about when Colorado can head for more re-opening.

"We are doing so much better than we were even a couple of months ago," noted Dr. Michelle Barron, in infectious disease specialist with UCHealth in Aurora, who then cautioned about ups and downs with COVID, which we have already seen.

"I think that it's incredibly overly optimistic to think that we are beyond where we can basically no longer worry about COVID being part of our lives."

But she noted, it's reasonable to plan for greater re-opening.

"I think you have to plan for that and have to sort of have that assumption (that) we're going to be there, because you can't just do it overnight. Hopefully if it doesn't pan out then they'll delay, but they'll at least have the planning in place," she said.

red rocks
(credit: CBS)

Red Rocks is going to put in a proposal for a variance with the state within a week. If the state agrees, It could mean some events by April. But expect things to start small. And they may stay that way.

"You know you'll still be able to see a show and you'll be in the venue, but it's not going to feel that same way as it has in the past," said Red Rocks spokesman Brian Kitts. He added that it won't be the kind of general admission that people may be used to. Expect mask wearing and lower capacity.

The state's COVID Dial indicates capacities for events and entertainment at Level Blue at 175 people. That's not feasible for concerts. Level Green raises that to 500. But, that's for events inside. There is no state guideline or number for outdoor events. Health officials will either have to establish those levels or determine on a case by case basis.

red rocks
(credit: CBS)

Concerts at Red Rocks are posted on its website, but they are carryovers from last year's cancellations.

"Those tickets are still good, if those shows play off. The reality is that a number of those won't play off because we will be at reduced capacity when Red Rocks finally opens," said Kitts.

Red Rocks capacity of approximately 9,500 makes shows for bigger artists feasible. But the same artists may not be able to make it work with far less. Kitts says they "may not be able to make the economics work of traveling here and playing for whatever the capacity ends up being."

In addition, tours are put together with big for multiple dates in numerous cities.

"I don't think if we get to June of July and everything's looking great, I don't think everybody's going to be back on the road," said Kitts.

There are concerns about fans getting together in seats, he said, but for bands who travel on buses together and spend time together backstage with others, there may be additional worries.

The Denver Center for the Performing Arts is also thinking that it may be a long time before big touring companies start up again, even if COVID levels look very positive. And the shows there are indoors, which may mean tighter restrictions. Even with increasing capacities, they would need thousands in the seats to make many shows feasible.

Other entertainment venues are also hopeful, but also need to get higher capacity levels before they are likely to be able to operate successfully.

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