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Outbreak Turns Stadiums Into Hospitals and Food Pantries

With sports shut down worldwide, venues start serving the public

a masked and gloved worker helps load a crate of supplies from the world central kitchen outside nationals park in washington dc

The Washington Post/Getty Images

World Central Kitchen employee Elyssa Kaplan unloads meals outside Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. The home of the World Series champion Washington Nationals is being used as a community kitchen during the coronavirus pandemic.

En español | Nationals Park would have been rocking this week, as throngs of cheering baseball fans watched the defending champion Washington Nationals host the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game rematch of last year's thrilling National League Division Series.

Would have been, if not for the coronavirus pandemic, which has shut down spectator sports around the globe.

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But while it's devoid of baseball, Nationals Park is not silent. In partnership with the team, World Central Kitchen (WCK), the charity founded by chef José Andrés, has turned the 41,313-seat stadium into a community kitchen where workers prepare and distribute thousands of meals a day for local seniors and families struggling amid the outbreak.

With their large unused spaces and empty parking lots, dormant sports venues worldwide are being drafted into duty as field hospitals, COVID-19 testing facilities, food banks, even a staging ground for temporary morgues. Here's a look at how some other renowned sites are being repurposed to help communities deal with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.