With the NFL season approaching, multiple teams have revealed that no fans will attend games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Miami Dolphins, on the other hand, took a different approach. The organization announced plans for limited fan attendance during the home opener in Week 2.
The Dolphins announced the plans on Monday with a 46-page plan. Everyone in attendance at the stadium will be required to wear masks when not eating or drinking. This policy includes fans and stadium employees alike. There is also no tailgating allowed on game day. Additionally, there will be staggered gate entry at the stadium with additional points of entry and exit to help prevent bottlenecks. The stadium will also have upgraded metal detectors to allow for faster processing.
When the fans head to the facilities, they will also see significant changes in the restrooms. The stadium will have new bathroom faucets, toilets, and soap and paper towel dispensers, all of which will require no contact. These changes follow months of planning to help make attendance possible.
"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," Dolphins vice chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel said in a statement, per ESPN. "We're happy that our elected officials recognize the attention to detail and diligence that we've put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time."
While many fans of the team have expressed excitement about the opportunity to attend the home opener against the Buffalo Bills, others have called the move "risky." Additionally, Bills head coach Sean McDermott expressed his frustration about the "inconsistent" guidelines across the league. "I think it's honestly ridiculous that there will be on the surface what appears to be a playing field that's like that, inconsistently across the league with the different away stadiums," McDermott said on Monday.
To the head coach's point, the NFL teams have laid out very different plans for the upcoming season. 15 of the 32 organizations have ruled out fans for at least a portion of the season. The Las Vegas Raiders have even said that the brand-new Allegiant Stadium will remain empty during its inaugural season. Other teams, however, are hoping to have fans attend in a limited fashion, including the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.