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Why Super Bowl LV isn’t as packed as it looks

That’s a lot of fake fans.

After a full year of seeing small crowds at NFL games people were taken aback during the Super Bowl by seeing thousands upon thousands of fans in the stands in the middle of a pandemic. At first glance it’s jarring, and seems utterly unnecessary — but it’s not quite as bad as you think.

The NFL has made a conscious effort to make the game appear as packed as possible for Super Bowl Sunday, which yes, does include a great deal of fans who were able to get tickets. However, a portion of those in attendance are vaccinated health care workers, and there are 35,000 cut outs of fans put in seats to make the game feel a lot more packed than it actually is.

Don’t get me wrong, attending any sporting event right now is a considerable risk, and we still don’t have solid data on whether people who have received Covid vaccinations are immune to transferring the virus, or whether they could still be vectors of infection even if they don’t display symptoms themselves. But it’s not as bad as it might seem at first.

In order to become a cut out at the Super Bowl fan paid $100 and submitted photos. Then it was a monumental task for a signage company who spent the last seven days working 12-15 hour days to cut out and stage each fan in a seat.

The cut out idea has been done before, but not to this extent. It’s a pretty neat idea that kept a lot of people safe, but still made it feel special.