What is Each NFL Teams’ 2020 Protocol on Allowing Fans in Stadiums?

by Chris Haney
what-is-each-nfl-teams-2020-protocol-on-allowing-fans-in-stadiums

Previous to the start of the NFL season, teams canceled practices along with all preseason games due to COVID-19. The Chiefs-Texans matchup was the first NFL game of the season, and the first to play with fans in the seats.

Out of the 32 teams in the NFL, only the Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts allowed fans inside their stadiums for their Week 1 games. Each club allowed limited attendance with a decreased capacity of fans.

Arrowhead Stadium can normally seat up to 76,000 when its sold out. During the season opener, the Chiefs announced an attendance of 15,895 fans at the game – around 20 percent stadium capacity.

Fans looking to attend an NFL game may have to do some research on what stadiums across the country are allowing entry. COVID-19 guidelines vary from state to state. Some teams say they will proceed with limited capacities, as others have announced their team’s will play in empty stadiums for now.

Here is a current rundown of each NFL team’s 2020 protocols for allowing fans into stadiums on game day.

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Bills Stadium (71,608 capacity)
  • On Aug. 25, the Bills announced that no fans will be allowed into the stadium for at least the first two regular-season home games. Those matchups are against the New York Jets (this past Sunday) and against the Los Angeles Rams (Sept. 27).
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Hard Rock Stadium (65,326 capacity)
  • For the Dolphins first home game, they admitted a maximum of 13,000 fans into their stadium – 20% capacity. The franchise is allowing limited seating with the expectation of a larger capacity if the season continues according to plan. Season-ticket holders are receiving priority to attend games. All fans are required to wear masks along with following guidelines including socially distanced seat clusters, touchless entry and food ordering, timed fan entry, and no smoking, or tailgating. Dolphins vice chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel said the NFL organization focused on the “attention to detail and diligence into creating a safe environment.” He said that elected officials gave the final go ahead to allow fans in the stadium for the home opener.

FOXBOROUGH, MA – SEPTEMBER 13: Patriots quarterback Cam Newton rolls out on a pass play with empty stands behind him. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
  • New England Patriots
  • Gillette Stadium (66,829 capacity)
  • Through at least September, the Patriots will not allow fans to attend regular-season games. Those games include the home opener against the Dolphins (this past Sunday) and a game against the Raiders two weeks later (Sept. 27). Officials are hopeful that Gillette Stadium can welcome fans later in the season, pending local and state approval.
  • New York Jets
  • MetLife Stadium (82,500 capacity)
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced in July that no fans are permitted to attend Jets games at MetLife Stadium. The order is in place “until further notice.”

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • M&T Bank Stadium (71,008 capacity)
  • The Ravens followed recommendations of public health experts in making attendance decisions. The team announced on Aug. 24 they would not host fans at M&T Bank Stadium for “at least the initial part” of the 2020 regular season.
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pau Brown Stadium (65,515 capacity)
  • The Bengals received a waiver to have a limited number of fans in attendance. Cincinnati can have up to 6,000 fans at their Oct. 4 game against Jacksonville and on Oct. 25 against Cleveland. The first two home games are a trial run.
CLEVELAND, OHIO – SEPTEMBER 17: Cleveland Browns fans cheer at FirstEnergy Stadium. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
  • Cleveland Browns
  • FirstEnergy Stadium (67,895 capacity)
  • The Browns welcomed 6,000 fans to their home opener against the Bengals on Thursday night. They will have the same amount of seats available for their second home game on Sept. 27 against Washington. 1,500 fans will spread out on each side of the stadium.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Heinz Field (68,400 capacity)
  • The Steelers announced there will be no fans at Heinz Field for at least the first two home games. They shared the information in an email the NFL organization sent out to season ticket holders on Aug. 27. The team has yet to make any decisions past Week 2 on whether to open Heinz Stadium so fans can attend games.

AFC South

  • Houston Texans
  • NRG Stadium (72,220 capacity)
  • The Texans will not admit fans into NRG Stadium on Sunday for their home opener against the Baltimore Ravens. On Thursday, the Texans announced they’re waiting on Houston and Harris County officials to approve an attendance of up to 15,000 fans for the team’s second NFL home game against Minnesota on Oct. 4.
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Lucas Oil Stadium (67,000 capacity)
  • The Colts allowed 2,500 into Lucas Oil Stadium for Sunday’s home game against Minnesota. The team is increasing the capacity to 7,500 fans for their Week 3 game against the New York Jets on Sept. 27.
JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 13: Socially distant fans watch a game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • TIAA Bank Field (67,164 capacity)
  • The Jaguars announced to season-ticket holders that they will fill around 25% of TIAA Bank Field’s capacity at each home game in 2020. So the Jaguars will welcome just under 17,000 fans each game. The team stated that an increase in capacity depends on developments regarding COVID-19 as well as any local, state or federal mandates. 
  • Tennessee Titans
  • Nissan Stadium (69,143 capacity)
  • For the Titans’ second home game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 4, attendance will be capped at 10%. Attendance will be increased to 12.5% against Buffalo on Oct. 11. And it will rise again to 15% against Houston on Oct. 18. The team plans to increase attendance to 21% in November and maintain that capacity for the rest of the NFL season.

AFC West

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 14: Cardboard cutouts of fans in front of a few living fans during the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans game. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
  • Denver Broncos
  • Empower Field at Mile High (76,125 capacity)
  • The Broncos welcomed around 500 friends and family of staff and players at Monday’s season opener. Officials have cleared the Broncos to have 5,700 fans at their Sept. 27 game against Tampa Bay. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said a decision on further Broncos’ home games would not be made until a later date. Additionally, Polis said that the number of COVID-19 cases in Denver County and the surrounding communities will determine how they move forward with attendance.
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Arrowhead Stadium (72,936 capacity)
  • The Chiefs announced that 15,895 fans attended their opener on Sept. 10. Likewise, the NFL organization is selling tickets for a similarly sized crowd at their next two home games. The team has not announced their plans for the last five regular-season games at Arrowhead Stadium. However, they have said they may adjust attendance going forward if things go well during their first three. At least one fan tested positive for COVID-19 after attending their first home game.
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Allegiant Stadium (65,000 capacity)
  • Raiders owner Mark Davis emailed Raiders season-ticket holders to inform them that fans will not be attending home games this season. He also stated that if fans couldn’t go to home games, he would not attend them either. The Raiders just moved to a new city this year. Their fans will have to wait until next season to attend a game at the brand new $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium off the Las Vegas Strip.
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • SoFi Stadium (72,240 capacity)
  • The Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams both play at SoFi Stadium. In a joint statement, the two teams announced on Aug. 25 that both team’s home games will be played without fans in attendance until further notice.

NFC East

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • AT&T Stadium (80,000 capacity)
  • Coach Mike McCarthy said there will be 25% capacity at AT&T Stadium. Around 20,000 fans will attend their Sunday home opener against the Falcons. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is allowing stadiums to have 50% capacity. However, the Cowboys are following strict league and CDC guidelines. If early games are successful, the capacity for Cowboys home games could grow. Fans will have to practice social distancing, mask wearing, seating in spread out sections, and there will be no paper tickets. All food, beverage and retail sales will be cashless.
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 14: The New York Giants take the field at an empty MetLife Stadium. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
  • New York Giants
  • MetLife Stadium (82,500 capacity)
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced in July that no fans are permitted to attend Jets games at MetLife Stadium. The order is in place “until further notice.” Murphy’s executive order caps outdoor gatherings at 500 people. Giants co-owner John Mara said he’s hopeful fans can attend games at some point this season. However, he also said he is not overly optimistic.
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Lincoln Financial Field (69,596 capacity)
  • According to local mandates, the city does not allow outdoor events of more than 50 people. Therefore there will be no fans at Lincoln Financial Stadium until further notice. The mayor’s office called it a “fluid situation,” which does leave room for policy changes.
  • Washington Football Team
  • FedEx Field (82,000 capacity)
  • Washington fans will not have the opportunity to attend home games this season. Owner Dan Snyder said the unpredictability of the coronavirus led him to the decision. The organization was one of the first to close its facilities and allow employees to work from home. The situation could be reevaluated if the pandemic improves throughout the season.

NFC North

  • Chicago Bears
  • Soldier Field (61,500 capacity)
  • Bears chairman George McCaskey said the team and city have collaborated on a plan that would allow fans to attend games. However, infection rates in Chicago are still too high to allow fans to attend home games for now. McCaskey added that their priority is the health and safety of city residents and Bears fans.
  • Detroit Lions
  • Ford Field (65,000 capacity)
  • There were no fans in attendance this past Sunday for the Lions game against the Bears. That trend will continue for the Oct. 4 home game against New Orleans. Lions team president Rod Wood said in a statement the Lions are going to evaluate the situation for fans for later in the season.
  • Green Bay Packers
  • Lambeau Field (81,441 capacity)
  • The Packers are not admitting fans for at least their first two home games. If fans get to attend the third home game, no more than 10,000 to 12,000 fans will be admitted. “We are hopeful that we will be able to host fans for games later in the season, should conditions allow,” Packers president Mark Murphy said. “We’ll continue to consult with community health care and public health officials on the pandemic conditions in our area.”
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 13: Cardboard fans are seen in the stands at the Minnesota Vikings game. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
  • Minnesota Vikings
  • U.S. Bank Stadium (66,655 capacity)
  • In August, the Vikings announced no fans will be allowed inside the stadium for the first two home games of the season. Yet, co-owner/president Mark Wilf said last week that the team is working with government officials to allow attendance in the stadium at some point. “We do have a plan in place, and that is our goal, to get fans back into the stadium,” said Wilf.

NFC South

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Mercedes-Benz Stadium (71,000 capacity)
  • There will be no fans at Falcons homes games for the month of September. That includes this past Sunday’s season opener against Seattle and the Sept. 27 matchup against the Bears.
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 13: General view of empty stands during the NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and the Las Vegas Raiders. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Bank of America Stadium (75,523 capacity)
  • The Panthers did not allow fans to attend their Week 1 home opener against the Raiders. Their next home game isn’t until Oct. 4, so they will reevaluate attendance based on state regulations at the time. The team is hopeful it can welcome around 16,000 fans when it hosts the Cardinals in Week 4.
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Mercedes-Benz Superdome (73,208 capacity)
  • The Saints have gotten approval from the state for fans to attend games. But, the New Orleans mayor has not signed off on the decision. As of now, fans will not be allowed to attend the Week 3 Sunday night game against Green Bay. The rest of the home schedule is still to be decided.
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Raymond James Stadium (65,890 capacity)
  • On Sept. 2, the Bucs announced that their first two home games would be played without fans. Buccaneers chief operating officer Brian Ford said, “We have determined that it is not yet the right time to welcome fans back to Raymond James Stadium.” Ford continued, saying “should current trends continue to improve, we plan to welcome fans back when we host the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 18.”

NFC West

  • Arizona Cardinals
  • State Farm Stadium (63,400 capacity)
  • On Aug. 28, the Cardinals announced that they will not have fans in attendance for the team’s first two home games. “We will continue to work with state and local officials in the weeks ahead to determine whether we may be in position to host a limited number of fans later in the NFL season,” Cardinals officials said.
  • Los Angeles Rams
  • SoFi Stadium (74,240 capacity)
  • The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers both play at SoFi Stadium. In a joint statement on Aug. 25, the two teams announced on that both team’s home games will be played without fans in attendance until further notice.
SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 13: Cardboard cutouts of fans sit in the seats before the San Francisco 49ers game. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Levi’s Stadium (68,500 capacity)
  • The 49ers followed local and state public health guidelines, and therefore did not have fans in attendance for Sunday’s home game against Arizona. The team will continue to work with officials as they decide on future home games. Their next home game is on Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
  • Seattle Seahawks
  • CenturyLink Field (69,000 capacity)
  • On Aug. 19, the Seahawks announced they would not have fans at CenturyLink Field for “at least” their first three NFL home games.

[H/T ESPN]

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