The Miami Dolphins could potentially become the first NFL team to host a game at a packed stadium. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' spokesperson confirmed the news to radio host Andy Slater amid statewide removal of COVID-19 stadium restrictions. The team can now legally allow 65,000 fans to watch games at Hard Rock Stadium.
However, Slater does report that the Dolphins won't rush to fill the stands in the coming weeks. The team will remain on the road until Oct. 25 when the Chargers come to town. The current plan is for the Dolphins to only host an estimated 13,000 fans during the AFC battle. Additionally, Slater said that DeSantis' spokesperson clarified that all Florida stadiums can now operate at full capacity.
"We'll continue to follow CDC guidelines and put everyone's safety first and monitor things as they go," Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel told ESPN's Cameron Wolfe. "Right now with positivity rates where they are, we feel that we can keep people safe in a socially distanced environment, which is our 13,000 capacity." Wolfe continued and explained that the team did not request the opportunity to pack the stadium. Instead, the Dolphins will plan on only allowing 13,000 fans for the remainder of the 2020 season.
"It's so ironic that this is the pro-life crowd doing this," one person commented after hearing the news about the Dolphins. Others agreed and criticized the state for the decision, but this was not a universal opinion. Some fans said that this move is long overdue and made harsh comments about people "under the age of 70" being afraid to attend a game.
The move to list restrictions on stadiums around the state comes more than a week after DeSantis made a similar move regarding businesses. He announced on Sept. 25 that the state is moving into phase three. "What that will mean for the restaurants, there will not be limitations," DeSantis said in the announcement.
"If we see an increase, we're not closing anything going forward, but I think if you look at our hospital capacity, if you look at what we did to marshal the latest medications, if you look at what we've done to help with all the PPE and the testing and everything, you know, we have the tools in place that we need," DeSantis continued. The decision to move forward sparked criticism among fellow politicians. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber proclaimed that DeSantis was trying to appease President Donald Trump, not protect his citizens.