Broncos make plans for fan return, but not for opening game

The Denver Broncos have become the latest NFL team to confirm they will open the 2020 season behind closed doors, but have spelled out plans to admit up to 5,700 fans for their second home game at Empower Field at Mile High.

While the Broncos’ opener against the Tennessee Titans on September 14 will have no spectators, this is set to change for the September 27 meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In consultation with the state of Colorado and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, attendance at Empower Field at Mile High will initially be limited to 5,700 fans – approximately 7.5% of the 76,125 stadium capacity.

The Broncos said they will continue to work closely with the state and public health experts, and will together re-evaluate increasing fan attendance for future home games. All Broncos Season Ticket Members will automatically be entered into a weighted lottery based on priority number for single-game tickets and parking passes with an on-sale date within the next week.

Seats will be sold in ‘pods’ of one to six tickets, and sections will be separated into smaller groups with designated entry, concession and restroom areas to limit fan exposure in alignment with the state’s outdoor event guidance. Suite seating options, with limited capacity, will also be available first to current Broncos premium members.

There will be significant changes to the gameday experience at Empower Field at Mile High. This includes mandatory face coverings, social distancing requirements and no tailgating or congregating inside the concourses/stadium bowl. The stadium will also feature entirely mobile/cashless technology, touchless restrooms, improved air purification systems, increased sanitisation protocols and extensive staff training.

Broncos vice-president of strategic initiatives, Brittany Bowlen, made the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) at a press conference with Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Bowlen said: “As Governor Polis said, we aren’t back to normal. Empower Field at Mile High will look and feel very different this year.

“In addition to mask and social distancing requirements, seating will be accommodated in small pods, and sections will be broken into groups. Our organisation is hopeful this is the start of gradually increasing fans at games this season, but we understand this takes the entire community, both on game days and in our daily lives, doing our part.”

As of Monday, 25 NFL teams had announced fans would not be in attendance for at least the first home game. Over the weekend, the State of Ohio granted the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals permission to host up to 6,000 fans at their opening two home games, while the Indianapolis Colts will be able to welcome up to 2,500 spectators to their home opener.

Washington Football Team and the Las Vegas Raiders have elected not to allow fans for the entire season. Kansas City Chiefs plan to have around 16,000 fans for tomorrow’s Thursday Night Football clash against the Houston Texans.

Jacksonville Jaguars have set a capacity of 17,000 for their Sunday game against Indianapolis and Miami Dolphins will allow 13,000 fans to attend their Week 2 home opener against the Buffalo Bills.

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