NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — As we enter week two of the 14-day pause in Rhode Island, one business is continuing to feel its devastating impact.
Back on Nov. 1, 12 News visited the Wide World of Indoor Sports in North Smithfield, where teams were holding their final practices before they had to shut down for a week. They were able to open for three more weeks after that, before the pause.
Normally during this time of year, you’d hear multiple games being played at once with hundreds of teams going in and out of the facility throughout the winter season.
But this year, owner Dan Fawcett says they have lost about 90% of their so far.
One of his biggest concerns is that customers will cancel their entire winter season at his facility. Not out of fear it’s unsafe, but fear of the uncertainty of the season.
“Okay, it’s a one-week pause, let’s tighten up and let’s get back. Now with the second two-week shutdown, we’ve lost the first half of our business of our winter season, and I think right now, everybody fears an extended shutdown which could potentially shut down our entire winter business,” he said.
Fawcett said since the state first allowed them to reopen in June, their two facilities (the other is located in North Kingstown) have had a combined number of five or six COVID-19 cases.
X’s marked on the sidelines designate how far coaches and players must stand from each other, there are separate doors for each field, everyone signs in for contact tracing and masks are required.
Fawcett does not believe his facilities are spreaders and he has received dozens of emails from customers willing to lobby on his behalf.
“Certainly disappointed and we’re concerned, but it’s a worldwide pandemic, and I don’t think we want to take a stance where we’re going to come in and cause problems, additional problems. We’re trying to work with the state, we’ve been trying to work with DEM, they’ve been wonderful over there, trying to come up with guidelines to make it safe so that we can reopen… I don’t think it’s the time to be fighting.”
The state has offered ways for small businesses to apply for loans, but Fawcett says that is not enough.
“It’s been so devastating, the loans that are offered, help but minimally. You can’t replace what we’ve been losing with the loans. Because there’s caps on all of the loans.”
Fawcett has every intention of keeping both businesses going, but said it’s going to take a lot of collaboration among partners to get through the year.