RALEIGH — What does a 57,600-seat sports stadium look like with social distancing in place?

To find out, North Carolina State University’s athletics department is among those turning to Cary-based software analytics firm SAS in a bid to plan for the next college football season, whenever that may be.

As the country begins to reimagine a post-COVID future, SAS’ venue optimization software enables sports organizations and entertainment venues to quickly run seating and attendance simulations to maximize ticket sales, revenues and attendance while supporting fan safety.

“SAS is an incredible partner for NC State Athletics and brings so much innovation and possibility to what we do,” said Boo Corrigan, NC State Director of Athletics, in a statement. “We wanted to get a better grasp of any and all scenarios for Carter-Finley Stadium capacity given the challenging circumstances in our current environment. SAS delivered an exceptional venue optimization plan that will help us make the best possible decisions for our fan base and program.”

In this case, NC State has run scenarios for objectives including total attendance, revenue, percentage of capacity and fixed number of seats for its Carter-Finley Stadium, with social distancing in place.

SAS’s software creates seating configurations for each hypothetical, helping NC State plan for ticketing and optimal attendance. Data visualization also shows NC State Athletics what the stadium seating arrangements would look like on game day.

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Seating scenarios can be run in three to seven minutes on average, allowing organizations to look at several scenarios quickly and empowering them to pivot at a moment’s notice if social distancing guidelines change.

The optimization analyses consider data such as aisle and row dimensions, seat and bench sizes, general admission or lawn seating dimensions and seat pricing. Users can choose the distance between seat groupings or the maximum group size of people sitting together, which can result in big differences.

A SAS analysis showed that if people sit in single seats and keep six feet between them, only about 15 percent of venue capacity can be used. However, if the maximum group size goes up to four the number rises to 30 percent.

“We want to help higher education institutions and entertainment venues reopen safely, which have already seen huge losses due to the pandemic,” said Dan Axman, SAS Sports Analytics Advisor.

“They are anxious to welcome fans back to venues but understand that public safety is top priority. Optimizing attendance and revenue amid changing public health requirements involves analyzing massive amounts of data but is critical to safely restoring the live fan experience and increasing revenues.”