All National Football League (NFL) teams were able to welcome fans back to their stadiums for the first time in more than a year over the weekend following the easing of Covid-19 measures.

While some franchises were able to host fans in a limited capacity last season, all teams are now able to open their venues to full capacity, though this will remain subject to regulations in their local markets. 

Supporters returned in their tens of thousands for the first round of games in this year’s pre-season schedule, which kicked off at the weekend ahead of the beginning of the new season next month.

Franchises hosting games at the weekend included the Las Vegas Raiders, which played a home game in front of fans at the Allegiant Stadium for the first time since relocating from Oakland, California.

A capacity crowd of 65,000 was in attendance to see the Raiders overcome the Seattle Seahawks 20-7, with fans required to wear masks while inside the stadium, in line with regulations in Nevada.

“It may be a pre-season game but it’s going to be our party as well because it’s the first time, No.1, a vast majority of Raiders fans will be in the stadium, but it will also be the first time I’ll be in there for an event,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said before the game.

“It was built for the Raiders. It was built for the Nation. It was built for our alumni. It was built for everybody, and it was built for the people of Las Vegas because they put their skin in the game as well.

“We are just so proud of it and when you see people out there at all hours, which I have, it just really legitimises what we did.”

Elsewhere, the Los Angeles Rams also played in front of fans for the first time at the team’s new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, hosting the Los Angeles Chargers. A widely reported brawl between fans in the stands grabbed most of the post-game headlines, although it was the Chargers that came out on top in front of a near-capacity 68,791 crowd, winning 13-6.

Also in California, 54,397 fans were at Levi’s Stadium for the pre-season game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs came out on top in a tight encounter, seeing off the 49ers 19-16.

Image: Allegiant Stadium