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7 teams will welcome back fans to start the NFL season — here's how each football stadium is handling the pandemic

7 teams will welcome back fans to start the NFL season — here's how each football stadium is handling the pandemic
  • The Kansas City Chiefs opened the 2020 NFL season with a limited-capacity crowd at Arrowhead Stadium on Thursday night.
  • Six other teams also plan to welcome fans to their home stadiums in the near future.
  • Across the rest of the league, teams are taking a wait-and-see approach, with many planning to play without fans for at least their first two home games of the yea, then re-evaluate.

The 2020 NFL season is set to be unlike any other in history.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the league to abridge training camps and forego preseason games, but despite the odd buildup, Week 1 is finally here.

Across the league, teams are taking different approaches to welcoming fans back into stadiums. The Kansas City Chiefs played in front of a smaller-than-usual crowd of fans when they opened the season on Thursday night against the Houston Texans.

Six more teams — the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals — also have plans in place to bring fans into their home stadiums in the next few weeks, starting this Sunday.

Other teams across the league have opted for a wait-and-see approach: Many have chosen to go without fans for their first two home games of the season, then re-evaluate at the start of November. Depending on guidelines from local and state officials, some teams may go the whole season without fans in their stadiums.

Below is a division-by-division breakdown of each team's policies on fans at NFL stadiums.

New England Patriots

New England Patriots
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Gillette Stadium

Regular capacity: 66,829

Where things stand: The Patriots will be without fans through the month of September, the team announced in August, after consulting with the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board.

"Gillette Stadium fully supports the state's position and this decision in the interest of public safety," the team said in a statement. "We would have welcomed the opportunity to host fans in August and September, but are hopeful to do so later in the season."

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Bills Stadium

Regular capacity: 71,608

Where things stand: Bills Stadium is not currently hosting fans in accordance with guidelines set by the state of New York.

"We understand that guidelines have continued to evolve in our state and we will maintain communication with the NFL and state and local government agencies to establish policies and procedures to create and maintain the safest possible environment should spectators be permitted," the team said in a statement in July.

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New York Jets

New York Jets
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: MetLife Stadium

Regular capacity: 82,500

Where things stand: The Jets are currently unable to host fans at MetLife Stadium due to guidelines set by the state of New Jersey. In a joint statement with the New York Giants, who also play at MetLife Stadium, the Jets expressed their support for the governor's decision.

"We support Governor Murphy's decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Giants and Jets will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance," the statement read. "Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Governor Murphy's office and will provide updates if necessary."

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins
Associated Press

Home stadium: Hard Rock Stadium

Regular capacity: 65,326

Where things stand: The Miami Dolphins are set to host roughly 13,000 fans for their home opener against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2 of the NFL season, filling Hard Rock Stadium to about 20% capacity. The number of fans allowed may change in response to trends in COVID-19 cases as the season progresses, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Fans in the stands will be in socially distanced clusters, and masks are required.

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Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: M&T Bank Stadium

Regular capacity: 71,008

Where things stand: The Ravens announced in late August that the team would not be hosting fans "at least for the initial part of the 2020 season."

The team said it would remain in communication with state and local officials and work towards a plan that could eventually safely allow a limited number of fans into the stadium at some point later in the year.

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Heinz Field

Regular capacity: 68,400

Where things stand: The Steelers will not host fans for their first two home games of the season, according to a post on the team's website.

Earlier in the summer, the team released a potential plan to bring significantly reduced number fans to Heinz Field should it be deemed possible at some point in the season.

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns
Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium

Regular capacity: 67,895

Where things stand: The Browns announced last week that they will host an extremely limited number of fans at FirstEnergy Stadium in their first two home games of the season, filling the arena to roughly 10% capacity.

Fans will come in through designated entrances and wear face masks throughout the game. The 10% capacity plan is set to continue "until further notice, pending the constantly evolving COVID-19 circumstances," according to the team.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Paul Brown Stadium

Regular capacity: 65,515

Where things stand: The Cincinnati Bengals will not be hosting fans for their season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers, but will be allowed to bring 6,000 fans in to attend two home games in October, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: NRG Stadium

Regular capacity: 72,220

Where things stand: The Texans announced in August that fans would not be present at NRG Stadium for the team's home opener in Week 2 against the Baltimore Ravens.

"Whether fans can attend other home games later in the season will depend on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in the greater Houston area, which is currently at the highest threat level (RED)," the team said in a statement. "The Texans will continue to monitor a variety of metrics and other factors in consultation with local medical and public health officials with the safety and wellbeing of our fans, players, coaches, staff, other personnel and the Houston community as our highest priority."

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Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Nissan Stadium

Regular capacity: 69,143

Where things stand: The Titans announced in August that fans will not be present for the team's home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 20.

"NFL football is a game meant to be played in front of a loud, cheering crowd and no one desires that outcome more than us," said team president and CEO Burke Nihill. "However, these are not normal times and as civic leaders in this great city, we understand and support Mayor Cooper and Metro Nashville Public Health Department's decision today to delay welcoming fans into Nissan Stadium."

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Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Lucas Oil Stadium

Regular capacity: 67,000

Where things stand: The Colts will host up to 2,500 fans for their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings on September 20.

"Our top priority always will be the health and safety of fans, players and staff, so we must take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe, which includes a reduced stadium capacity on game day," said Pete Ward, the Colts chief operating officer. "We will continue to work with local health officials on steps that will allow our season to go on as safely as possible with fans in the stands. And we continue to appreciate the patience of all our fans as we navigate the fluid nature of this pandemic."

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars
Steve Flynn--USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: TIAA Bank Field

Regular capacity: 69,132

Where things stand: The Jaguars are planning to fill TIAA Bank Field to 25% capacity for home games this season, the team announced in July.

"Once the season begins, any future increase in capacity will depend on developments on the health and safety front," the team said at the time.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Arrowhead Stadium

Regular capacity: 76,416

Where things stand: The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off the season against the Houston Texans on Thursday night with approximately 22% of Arrowhead Stadium filled.

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Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Empower Field at Mile High

Regular capacity: 76,125

Where things stand: The Denver Broncos will host 5,700 fans for their Week 1 game against the Tennessee Titans, filling Mile High to roughly 7.5% capacity.

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Las Vegas Raiders

Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Allegiant Stadium

Regular capacity: 65,000

Where things stand: The Raiders plan to play their first season in Las Vegas without fans in attendance.

"This decision is based on our commitment to protect the health of our fans and the entire community in response to the coronavirus pandemic affecting us all," the team said in a statement.

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Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: SoFi Stadium

Regular capacity: 70,240

Where things stand: The Los Angeles Chargers, along with the Los Angeles Rams with whom they share Sofi Stadium, announced in late August that home games will go on without fans in attendance "until further notice."

"While we all look forward to coming together to celebrate this new era of sports and entertainment in Los Angeles, the health and safety of our fans, community, players and staff remains our top priority," the joint statement said. "We will continue to work with LA County Department of Public Health and the City of Inglewood on a plan that, when circumstances permit, safely brings fans to SoFi Stadium and adheres to local, State, CDC and NFL guidelines."

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Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Lincoln Financial Field

Regular capacity: 69,596

Where things stand: The Eagles will start the season without fans present in the stands and play without a home crowd "until further notice," according to the team.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: AT&T Stadium

Regular capacity: 80,000

Where things stand: The Dallas Cowboys will host fans for their home opener against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, but have not yet disclosed how many people will be present.

"We'll announce that night at the game what our capacity was," owner Jerry Jones said on his radio show, per the Star-Telegram. "And we certainly will follow all of the guidelines, and we're so fortunate to have the room and have the openness and the airedness that we have out there, and it gives us a lot of flexibility. And so we anticipate a great crowd."

According to the Star-Telegram, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has limited stadium capacity to 50%, but the Cowboys are unlikely to fill the stadium to that extent.

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New York Giants

New York Giants
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: MetLife Stadium

Regular capacity: 82,500

Where things stand: The Giants will not have fans present to start the 2020 season, in keeping with New Jersey guidelines.

In a joint statement with the New York Jets, who also play at MetLife Stadium, the Giants expressed their support for the governor's decision.

"We support Governor Murphy's decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Giants and Jets will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance," the statement read. "Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Governor Murphy's office and will provide updates if necessary."

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Washington Football Team

Washington Football Team
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: FedEx Field

Regular capacity: 82,000

Where things stand: The Washington Football Team announced in mid-August that it will play the 2020 season with out fans in attendance, but said the decision could be re-evaluated "should the situation surrounding the pandemic improve over the course of the season."

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Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers
Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Lambeau Field

Regular capacity: 81,441

Where things stand: The Packers announced in early August that the team will go without fans for at least its first two home games.

By the team's third home game — scheduled for November 1 against the Minnesota Vikings —the Packers hope to re-evaluate the possibility of hosting fans in a limited capacity.

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Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings
Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: US Bank Stadium

Regular capacity: 66,655

Where things stand: The Minnesota Vikings will play without fans for at least their first two home games.

"We will continue to work with the appropriate officials on our plans with the hope of bringing fans back in a safe manner later this season," the team said in a statement.

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Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Soldier Field

Regular capacity: 61,500

Where things stand: The Chicago Bears will also start the season without fans.

"After discussing a draft plan with city health officials, the Bears and the City of Chicago agreed the health metrics show that it is not the right time to welcome fans back to Soldier Field," the team said in a statement. "The health and safety of the city's residents and fans of the Bears will always take priority. The team and City will continue to monitor the environment and believe there can be a sound plan in place to bring fans back to Soldier Field once it is deemed safe and appropriate. Until then, Bears home games will not include in-person fans."

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Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Ford Field

Regular capacity: 65,000

Where things stand: The Detroit Lions will not have fans present for at least the first two home games of the 2020 season. The team said that the potential for fans at later games will "continue to be evaluated." Detroit's third home game is scheduled for November 1 against the Indianapolis Colts.

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New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome

Regular capacity: 73,208

Where things stand: The New Orleans Saints will not host fans for Week 1 of the NFL season.

"The team, along with health and safety experts, will continuously monitor trends to determine if fans will be able to attend the September 27 game vs. Green Bay," the Saints said in a statement in August. "Although the current guidance we have received from our government leaders suggest this to be unlikely, we remain prepared to host fans if allowed."

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Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Regular capacity: 71,000

Where things stand: The Atlanta Falcons will not have fans in attendance for their first two home games, the team announced in August. The Falcons said they will "continue to collaborate with national and local health officials in the coming weeks before deciding on fan attendance at events scheduled later in the fall."

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Raymond James Stadium

Regular capacity: 65,890

Where things stand: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing without fans for the first two home games of the season, then re-evaluating. Their Week 6 game against the Green Bay Packers would be the earliest game at which fans would be allowed in the stadium.

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Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers
Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Bank of America Stadium

Regular capacity: 75,523

Where things stand: The Carolina Panthers will not have fans in attendance for Week 1.

"This is not a choice between a full stadium or an empty stadium," the team said in a statement. "We have offered compromises and alternatives. We will continue reaching out to government officials regarding options for future games."

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San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: Levi's Stadium

Regular capacity: 68,500

Where things stand: The 49ers will not have fans at their first home game, the team announced in August.

"We will continue to work with State and County officials regarding the potential to welcome the Faithful back to Levi's Stadium later this season," the team said.

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: CenturyLink Field

Regular capacity: 69,000

Where things stand: The Seahawks will play their first three home games of the season without fans, targeting November 1 as a potential date to welcome fans back.

"While we are hopeful that conditions will improve as the season moves forward, we will continue to follow the lead of public health and government officials to make future decisions about having fans in attendance," the team said in a statement.

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Los Angeles Rams

Los Angeles Rams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Home stadium: SoFi Stadium

Regular capacity: 70,240

Where things stand: The Los Angeles Rams, along with the Los Angeles Chargers with whom they share Sofi Stadium, announced in late August that home games would go on without fans in attendance "until further notice."

"While we all look forward to coming together to celebrate this new era of sports and entertainment in Los Angeles, the health and safety of our fans, community, players and staff remains our top priority," the joint statement said. "We will continue to work with LA County Department of Public Health and the City of Inglewood on a plan that, when circumstances permit, safely brings fans to SoFi Stadium and adheres to local, State, CDC and NFL guidelines."

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals
Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY NETWORK

Home stadium: State Farm Stadium

Regular capacity: 63,400

Where things stand: The Arizona Cardinals will go without fans for their 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 season," the team wrote in an email to season ticket holders. "If so, Cardinals season ticket members would have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for those games."

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