Hard Rock Stadium is one step closer to normalcy after a summer of uncertainty.
Stadium executives announced Monday that a limited number of fans will be permitted to attend Dolphins football games during the 2020 season. The announcement comes as stadium officials across the U.S. have pondered allowing fans at games amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Up to 13,000 fans will be permitted at the Miami Dolphins’ Sept. 20 season home opener against the Buffalo Bills, said Dolphins Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel.
“When we started the process back in March of exploring what a socially-distanced stadium could look like, we made the health and safety of everyone the first priority; knowing that if we felt that we couldn’t make it safe, we simply wouldn’t have fans,” Garfinkel said.
Face masks will be enforced and fans will be seated in “socially distant seating clusters.” Tailgaiting before games is prohibited.
In addition to the those requirements, the stadium will implement a cashless system for food and drink purchases. Fans will order through the Dolphins mobile app, and will receive a notification when their order is ready for pick-up.
“If you don’t want to wear a mask, this isn’t the season for you – don’t come,” Garfinkel said during a Monday news conference at the stadium.
Other policies designed for the 2020 season include:
- Staggered gate entry with entry times listed on game tickets
- Walk-through metal detectors with touchless security screening
- Contactless toilets and faucets in restrooms
- Cashless parking and retail service
Dolphins season ticket holders have first priority for ticket purchases. All season ticket holders also have the option to roll over their 2020 payments to the 2021 season, the team said.
Prices for single-day tickets will be announced at a later date.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez both said Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are slowing in South Florida, statistics that support the stadium’s limited reopening. Miami-Dade’s testing positivity rate is below 10% and Covid-19 hospitalizations have dropped by 50%, Gimenez said.
“Just because we’ll have fans doesn’t mean Covid-19 is over in our community,” Gimenez said. “We have to keep wearing our masks, social distancing and washing hands so we can continue to open up the economy and go back to a more normal life.”
Miami-Dade County leads Florida in the number of Covid-19 infections, with almost 152,000 total confirmed cases as of Monday. The county is home to 21% of the state’s virus fatalities.
From limited capacity to no fans at all, NFL teams have varied plans for how they’ll operate during the 2020 season. Some teams, like the Las Vegas Raiders, are not allowing any fans to attend games, while others, such as the Jacksonville Jaguars, plan to cap attendance at 25%.