The Miami Dolphins and Miami Hurricanes will allow up to 13,000 fans inside Hard Rock Stadium during the teams' upcoming home openers.
The Dolphins announced Monday that the stadium will have a 20 percent capacity for the home opener of the 2020 season on September 20th, a move made amid social distancing concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said the decision was made after months of discussion among team and stadium officials focused on social distancing and the ability to hold such events at the stadium.
"Back in March, the only thing certain was that there was going to be a lot of uncertainty moving forward," Garfinkel said at an event held Monday at the stadium with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. "I talked to the leadership about being prepared and creative."
Hours later, the 'Canes confirmed that the same capacity requirements would be in place for their opener on September 10th against Alabama-Birmingham.
The capacity would likely be in place for each of the Dolphins’ eight home games and the Hurricanes’ six home games.
"It's important to have football back and I really applaud the Dolphins for taking the steps necessary to do it," DeSantis said.
Garfinkel said the team made a number of changes at the stadium including "touchless entry," which includes new metal detectors that don't require fans to remove items from their pockets.
The team installed touchless sinks in bathrooms, a new air filtration system, and will be using a new app that allows fans to order food from their seats and pick up their orders in an effort to cut down on lines, Garfinkel said.
The team won't allow tailgating and will stop alcohol sales at halftime, and fans and stadium employees will be required to wear masks when not eating or drinking.
"If you are someone that doesn't want to wear a mask, this isn't the place for you this year, don't buy a ticket, don't come," Garfinkel said.
U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, who served as the secretary of health and human services during the Clinton administration, expressed concern about the safety of those attending games.
“It is very difficult to open anything when you have community spread,” said Shalala, former president at the University of Miami. “We still have community spread in South Florida. So the kinds of precautions that need to be taken are extraordinary, and I think it’s going to be very difficult to do. ... There is no question that it’s risky."
Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott wasn't happy that some NFL teams will have fans and others won't. As of now, the Bills don't plan to allow spectators at their home games.
“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.