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Panthers, Bucs to begin NFL season without fans

The Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become the latest NFL American football teams to confirm that they will begin the 2020 season without fans in attendance.

The Panthers will play in an empty Bank of America Stadium for the game against the Las Vegas Raiders on September 13.

In a statement released yesterday (Wednesday), the team said that it was confident of safely hosting a limited number of fans based on guidelines outlined in Phase 2 of North Carolina’s reopening plan and its own health and safety plan. However, the opening home game against the Raiders will come too soon for the return of fans.

The Panthers will continue reaching out to government officials regarding options for future games. When fans are able to return to Bank of America Stadium, face coverings and temperature checks will be required, while venue solutions company Honeywell has also devised customised PPE packs for supporters.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers have confirmed that their first two games at Raymond James Stadium – against the Panthers on September 20 and the Los Angeles Chargers on October 4 – will take place without fans.

The Buccaneers are hopeful that these will be the only two fixtures to be played in an empty stadium, with the October 18 game against the Green Bay Packers targeted as a potential return date for fans.

The Buccaneers reached the decision after working closely with local and NFL officials to chart the safest and most responsible course for returning to games with fans in attendance. The news comes as a blow for Buccaneers fans, who will have to wait for their first look at new signing Tom Brady.

The majority of NFL teams will start their seasons in empty stadiums, with only the Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts planning on allowing a limited number of fans.

Image: HangingCurve/Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)/Edited for size