Up to this point the NFL’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has mostly been a shrug. The NFL Draft was hugely impacted, altering the format to a stay-at-home draft. But the consensus has largely been that the league will wait and see where the pandemic is at this fall before making any decisions.
With the NFL schedule being released on Thursday there’s an expectation the league will also announce plans to keep fans safe, but the Miami Dolphins aren’t waiting. The team began unveiling their plans on Tuesday on how they can allow fans to attend live games when the season begins, while also trying to maintain safety for those in attendance.
Hard Rock Stadium in Miami has a capacity of 65,000, but the Dolphins’ plan means that no more than 15,000 fans will be in attendance at any given time. Entrances are being altered so only half the doors will be open, requiring fans to stand in lines six feet apart upon entering the venue.
From there security personnel would manage the crowd, having them enter in rows — rather than a free-for-all to ensure social distancing measures are maintained. In order to assist with this fans would pre-book an arrival time ahead of the game, so their spot is maintained and entrances aren’t all hit at once from fans trying to find their seats.
It isn’t just how fans are entering the stadium that will be altered. In order to minimize concourse traffic the Dolphins will utilize an order and pickup system at concessions stands, which would notify people from their seats when their order was ready — rather than require them to congregate in lines. Which, honestly, it’s stunning we haven’t had this in place for years already.
The move is in service of seeking STAR accreditation, a certification handed out to organizations by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, which is awarded when guidelines are met that puts an emphasis on protection and cleanliness. It’s expected the Dolphins’ plan would earn STAR accreditation, making it one of the first sports teams in the world to receive the honor.
Plans are in place to find safe ways for fans to attend NFL games live this fall, and the Dolphins are leading the charge. Now the wait is on to see how the rest of the league will adapt.