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Simmons Bank Arena getting ready for 1st show in over a year

After more than a year, Simmons Bank Arena won't be silent for much longer.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — After more than a year, Simmons Bank Arena won't be silent for much longer.

"Well it definitely has not been a fun year," Michael Marion, the General Manager at Simmons Bank Arena, said. "The shadow of COVID over things, that certainly affects, you know, the preparation."

No performers, music, or cheers took a toll on those working behind the scenes at the arena, but just like the artists who come to town, the show must go on.

"I'd have to say joy," Marion said. Because this is what we like to do, this is what we enjoy doing."

Fans will officially be welcomed back on June 4, when the "In Real Life Comedy Tour," hosted by Mike Epps, comes to North Little Rock.

"When people come here for Mike Epps, they're going to see that there are available seats spread out all over the arena," Marion said. "But a lot of seats are actually marker off that are not available."

Seats are available in a pod system and are only available in pairs of 2, 4, or 6. Marion says you have to buy all the tickets for the pods in order to receive the tickets, in order to keep interactions with people you don't know small.

That's not the only change coming either.

"We're looking at the way we serve concessions," Marion said. "We're looking at our whole traffic flow of people, how we get them in and out of the building."

New changes to mask requirements from the Centers for Disease Control complicates how shows will work at the arena. Marion says just like the set designs the artist chooses, that may also be up to them.

"I think as we go down the road, depending on the tour, they'll be the one driving that bus as to whether they want to have people show their vaccination card to buy a ticket," he said.

Marion says many other stadiums and arenas across the country are not requiring that, and that that isn't a focus of theirs as of now.

He says the main point for them now is just having people back in seats.

"Kind of our first impression, that's gonna be made this summer with the events that we have coming," Marion said. 

"So we want to make sure people don't feel like, 'Oh, they just sat here and did nothing for a year,' we are getting it ready for folks and we want them to come and have a good time."