‘Big D’ greeted with record fans’ presence



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AT&T stadium back with fans Sept 2020 Image: The Dallas Morning News Smiley N Pool

The professional American football team Dallas Cowboys managed to pull in a crowd of 21,708 to the 80,000-capacity AT&T Stadium in Texas, United States, on September 20th (Sunday) – its smallest attendance for a Dallas regular season home game in 57 years but the biggest attendance so far in the 2020 National Football League (NFL) campaign as teams continue to wrestle with returning fans to stadia amid the COVID-19 situation which is still proving to be a veritable death trap for the world and is not getting any better in the United States.

The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team based in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The Cowboys compete in the NFL as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division.

Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones has stuck to his guns that fans would be in place during the team’s 2020 season, and the franchise has been aided in this task with the State of Texas currently in the third phase of reopening its economy, allowing outdoor stadia to host events at 50 percent of total capacity.

Last month, the Cowboys confirmed that it would introduce a ‘pod’ seating concept in AT&T Stadium as part of efforts to ensure fans can attend games in a COVID environment. The Cowboys published a Safe Stadium Policy after Jones maintained the organization was still firm on welcoming fans back to the AT&T Stadium, stating the NFL can act as a vanguard of COVID-19 response.

Leading up to Sunday’s dramatic 40-39 win over the Atlanta Falcons, Jones had been coy over the expected attendance at a stadium that averaged 90,929 for home games last season. Prior to the match he had told mediapersons, “I love our plan for safety of the stadium”.

“The stadium has an enormous amount of space in it, three million square feet of air conditioned space; great air flow, great current, air current. We didn’t know that we’d be giving it this kind of emphasis when the stadium was built, but we’re going to have a very safe plan of entry,” Jones added.
 

Overview

As Week 2 of the NFL season has concluded, here is a rundown of few teams with fans in attendance. Week 1 of the 2020 season saw only two games with fans in tow:
 

Week 1

  • The professional American football team based in Kansas City, Missouri (US), Kansas City Chiefs home opener at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City was attended by 15,895 fans; and
  • The professional football franchise based in Jacksonville, Florida (US), Jacksonville Jaguars match at their home facility TIAA Bank Field in Florida was graced by 14,100 supporters.

 

Week 2

  • The professional American football team Dallas Cowboys boasted a crowd of 21,708 in their home arena AT&T Stadium in Texas (US);
  • The professional American football team based in the Miami metropolitan area in US – Miami Dolphins – had 11,075 fans attend their home opener at Hard Rock Stadium in Florida;
  • The professional American football team based in Cleveland, US, Cleveland Browns, allowed around 6,000 spectators to their residence FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland; and
  • The American football team based in Indianapolis (US) – Indianapolis Colts – greeted 2,500 supporters at their home ground Lucas Oil Stadium.

 
Week 2 concluded on September 21st as the Las Vegas Raiders played their first game at the chic Allegiant Stadium in Nevada (US). However, it was decided last month that the new 65,000-seat jaw-dropping stadium will be closed to Raiders’ fans for the entire 2020 season amid ongoing restrictions caused by COVID-19.

….To follow suit

The professional American football team based in Atlanta, US, Atlanta Falcons are set to become the latest NFL team to allow fans back to their stadium, while the professional American football team based in the Phoenix metropolitan area (US) – Arizona Cardinals – have scheduled a pilot event as they are also keen on fans returning to their venue.

The Falcons and the Major League Soccer (MLS) team Atlanta United have announced that both teams will play games at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with supporters in “limited capacity”, and following league protocols, beginning with the Falcons’ home game versus the professional American football team based in Charlotte, North Carolina (US) – Carolina Panthers – on October 11th.

Team and stadium officials made the decision based on several factors including the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in the State of Georgia. It was decided last month that Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be sans fans throughout September, affecting two Falcons home games and three home matches for Atlanta United.

Steve Cannon, head honcho, AMB Sports and Entertainment, parent company of the teams and stadium, noted, “Having fans watch from alternative locations was a difficult, but important decision. It’s been challenging for both teams to play without fans, but their well-being as well as the safety of our associates and fans was paramount.”

To further test stadium operations and protocols, the Falcons will play host to circa 500 “friends, family and associates” for the game against the professional American football team based in Chicago (US) – Chicago Bears – on September 27th (Sunday). This will facilitate the stadium operations team to assess and address any issues that might surface and be ready to have fans back in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Cardinals were also forced to play behind closed doors for Sunday’s home opener against the professional American football team based in the Washington metropolitan area (US) – Washington Football Team (formerly Washington Redskins), but the residence of the Cardinals – State Farm Stadium in Arizona, US, will stage a test event for the visit of the professional American football team based in Detroit US) – Detroit Lions – on September 27th.

A group comprising “family and close friends of players, coaches and staff”, numbering no more than 750, will attend. Permission from the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Maricopa County Department of Public Health is designed to allow testing of “the implementation of health and safety protocols”.

In a letter sent to the team, ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ wrote, “This can be an important next step for fans safely returning to in-person viewing”.

After September 27th, the Cardinals’ next home game is due to be versus professional American football team based in Seattle, Washington (US), Seattle Seahawks, on October 25th.

Certain Statewide COVID-19 conditions must be met before fans can return. Christ said that with Arizona currently in the “moderate” category for COVID transmission, it is recommended that fan attendance will not be allowed until this falls to “minimal”.

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