Rose, Fiesta bowls to be played without fans

The Fiesta Bowl and the Rose Bowl will be played without fans in January due to COVID-19 restrictions, both bowl committees announced Thursday.

While the Fiesta Bowl will allow families of players to attend the Jan. 2 game at Glendale, Ariz., the state, city and county nixed the Tournament of Roses’ request for the same in Pasadena, Calif. The Rose Bowl is one of the College Football Playoff’s semifinal games this go-round.

Los Angeles County is under a stay-at-home order due to the pandemic through mid-December.

“While we are disappointed that the Rose Bowl Game will not be played in front of spectators, we are pleased that we are still able to hold the game this year, continuing the 100-year plus tradition of The Granddaddy of Them All,” said David Eads, executive director and CEO of the Tournament of Roses. “We continue to work closely with health department officials and the Rose Bowl Stadium to provide the safest possible environment for our game participants.”

Arizona has experienced an uptick in cases of COVID-19, peaking at more than 5,700 late last month.

“While we are disappointed that the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl will not have fans in the stadium to enjoy Bowl Season this year, we respect the decisions made by the local authorities,” said Mike Nealy, the executive director of the Fiesta Bowl Organization. “Our staff was incredibly diligent to put health and safety measures in place that earned the endorsement from the Governor’s Office for policies that aligned with recommendations for reducing COVID-19 transmission risk. Ultimately, we all need to do our part to ensure the health and safety of our community to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

The Sugar Bowl — the other CFP semifinal — as well as the Orange Bowl and CFP title game are still on track to host a limited amount of fans.

Ten bowl games thus far have been canceled due to the pandemic: Bahamas, Celebration, Fenway, Hawaii, Holiday, Las Vegas, Motor City, Pinstripe, Redbox and Sun.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Real and cardboard cutout fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers watch the game against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 36-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

COVID forces Steelers to ban fans for December games

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday that attendance at Heinz Field for the team’s two home games in December will be limited to family and friends of players and members of the organization due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Steelers put out a statement that new restrictions on gatherings in the state of Pennsylvania have forced the team to ban fans.

“Governor Wolf’s Office and State Health Director Dr. Levine issued new orders and advisories which will affect our games in December, starting with the game against Washington on December 6. That order will now limit Heinz Field to no more than 2,500 people in the building, including players, coaches, stadium staff, etc.,” the team said in a statement.

“Consequently, we will have to restrict fans in the seating bowl to family and friends of players and the organization.”

The Steelers Thursday night Thanksgiving game against the rival Baltimore Ravens is not impacted by the new restrictions, and about 5,500 fans are expected to attend the game at Heinz Field.

Fans at Thursday’s game will be required to adhere to the stadium’s protocols, including requirements for wearing a mask and social distancing.

While no fans will be allowed at Heinz Field in December, it is unknown if fans will be allowed into the stadium should the Steelers, who are currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, host any games in the postseason.

— Field Level Media

Aug 2, 2018; Canton, OH, USA; A view of the Ravens logo on a game helmet prior to the game of the Chicago Bears against the Baltimore Ravens at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens shut out fans citing rising COVID numbers

The Baltimore Ravens announced Monday that fans won’t be permitted at M&T Bank Stadium for the Ravens’ home game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Citing increases in cases and hospitalizations in the state of Maryland, the team said no fans — including team family members — will be permitted.

“In giving the matter careful consideration, and with the rise of Maryland’s COVID-19 infection rate and increased hospitalizations, the Ravens believe this decision is the correct one in helping protect the well-being and safety of our community,” the team announced in a statement.

According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s health department reported at least 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for a sixth straight day on Monday. The number of people hospitalized for the illness, and the state’s seven-day average case rate per 100,000, has also nearly doubled in the last two weeks.

The Ravens opened the season on Sept. 13 without fans, but Maryland governor Larry Hogan loosened state attendance restrictions later in September and again in October.

Baltimore hosted just one game with general admittance for fans, a 28-24 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 1. A total of 4,345 was listed as the official attendance number for that game at the venue, which has an official capcity of 71,000.

Baltimore (6-3) will play at Pittsburgh on Thanksgiving on Nov. 26 after hosting the Titans on Sunday. The Ravens are schedule to host the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 3.

–Field Level Media

Aug 22, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; Gillette Stadium logo during the first half of the game between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots announce no fans allowed for rest of season

The New England Patriots announced Monday that no fans will be allowed to attend home games for the rest of this season.

The announcement comes days after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker instituted new interventions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state. Massachusetts is seeing a surge of cases with 11,692 new cases in the past week, according to the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University.

The fan ban includes the New England Revolution of MLS, who also play at Gillette Stadium.

“Throughout the last several months, Gillette Stadium officials and the Kraft Sports + Entertainment organization have worked diligently to develop a plan to safely host fans at a reduced capacity,” officials said in a statement. “We have done so in collaboration with a team of infectious disease experts and the Massachusetts Reopening Advisory Board and feel confident in our plan, which complies with guidelines issued by the CDC, the National Football League and Major League Soccer.

“We have recently been informed that the Governor’s Executive Order prohibiting large capacity venues from opening to the public will remain in force for the remainder of the 2020 football and soccer seasons.

“As we turn our focus to 2021, we will continue to work closely with the advisory board to safely reopen our building. We look forward to welcoming Patriots and Revolution fans back home to Gillette Stadium upon being granted approval next year.”

The Patriots (2-5) next play at home in Week 10 against the Baltimore Ravens (6-2). The Patriots play the New York Jets on Monday night in East Rutherford N.J.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2018; Landover, MD, USA; Empty club level seats are seen during the first half of a game between the Washington Redskins and the Houston Texans at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Washington to allow 3,000 fans for Giants game

The Washington Football Team will allow about 3,000 fans to attend the Nov. 8 game at FedEx Field against the New York Giants.

“Welcome back! It’s a small step back towards normalcy in this crazy time,” tweeted Julie Donaldson, the team’s senior vice president of media and content.

The team plays in Landover, Md., and state Gov. Larry Hogan announced last week that both the Redskins and Baltimore Ravens could open their stadiums to fans as long as they occupied fewer than 10 percent of the seats amid the coronavirus pandemic.

FedEx Field seats about 80,000.

The team did a trial run with 200 friends and family members on hand Oct. 11 for the game against the Los Angeles Rams.

“We take our responsibility to protect our staff, players, fans, and the community seriously,” said Jason Wright, team president. “Since the beginning of the season, we worked in close coordination with Prince George’s County health officials to monitor and assess the possibility of welcoming fans.”

Tickets will be sold to season-ticket holders, based on tenure. All fans must wear face coverings.

–Field Level Media

Sep 27, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader in the stands during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles welcoming fans back to stadium vs. Ravens

The Philadelphia Eagles got the OK to welcome fans back to Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Capacity is set for 7,500 total, meaning roughly 5,000 to 6,000 fans will be allowed in to watch the game, according to varying reports. Tickets go on sale Wednesday for season ticketholders who opted in for the games against the Ravens and New York Giants (Thursday, Oct. 22).

“We have been working very closely with state and local officials, public health experts, and the National Football League on a number of scenarios to safely bring Eagles fans back to Lincoln Financial Field,” team president Don Smolenski said. “We will all continue to stay in close communication and will be prepared to adjust and adapt as needed.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf eased restrictions last week, allowing for a limited capacity in Pittsburgh when the Eagles visited the Steelers. The City of Philadelphia amended guidelines for gatherings Monday, allowing the Eagles to follow suit.

The Eagles played their first two home games without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Eagles are 1-3-1 while the Ravens are 4-1.

–Field Level Media

Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  General view of the field after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs plan to admit more fans after governor’s order

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open Raymond James Stadium to fans next weekend, now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has lifted restrictions on businesses throughout Florida.

On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order that removed all rules that impacted businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said.

So the Buccaneers, who hadn’t planned on a return of fans until Week 6, will allow a limited number of spectators when they play the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 4.

While the team did not specify a target number, the Tampa Bay Times said attendance will be capped at 10,000. Beginning with the Oct. 18 game against the Green Bay Packers, Raymond James Stadium will be limited to 25 percent capacity, or 16,250, the Times said.

“We have been working tirelessly with local and state authorities, as well as medical experts, to ensure a safe environment at Raymond James Stadium,” Buccaneers COO Brian Ford said. “We are ready and excited to welcome our fans back.”

Only longtime season-ticket holders will have a chance to see quarterback Tom Brady lead the offense, however.

For the Chargers game, season seat holders who have held their tickets since 1998 or earlier will be given the first chance to but tickets. For the remaining home schedule, the Bucs will hold a “priority presale” for season pass members who kept their 2020 payments as credit toward 2021 games having the chance to buy limited tickets for up to two games.

As of Saturday, Florida’s other teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins – had not announced any modifications to their attendance plans.

Florida is the third in the United States in total cases of COVID-19 — trailing California and Texas — at almost 700,000 and reported 2,847 new cases in the past day, Johns Hopkins University reported.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; The Atlanta Falcons logo is shown in an end zone before the game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons to allow limited number of fans on Oct. 11

The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that they will allow a limited number of fans into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Oct. 11 for their game against the Carolina Panthers.

The team decided last month to play September home games without fans, due to the coronavirus pandemic. But with a decline of cases in Georgia, the team is moving forward with limited capacity for the Oct. 11 game, as well as for home matches involving the Atlanta United MLS team.

“We are thrilled to invite fans of both the Falcons and Atlanta United back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” says Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment.

“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.”

The team is allowing 500 friends, family and associates for the Falcons’ home game this Sunday against the Chicago Bears as a dry run on protocols and operations.

–Field Level Media

Oct 20, 2019; Nashville, TN, USA; A general view inside Nissan Stadium prior to the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Los Angeles Chargers. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Titans will start allowing spectators in October

The Tennessee Titans will begin allowing a limited number of spectators at Nissan Stadium next month.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers’ visit to Nashville on Oct. 4, the stadium will open at 10 percent capacity (roughly 7,000 fans) for season-ticket holders seated in the lower bowl and club levels.

That number will rise to 12.5 percent (8,600 fans) for the Oct. 11 game against the Buffalo Bills, and to 15 percent (10,400) for the Oct. 11 contest against the Houston Texans.

For the Titans’ remaining home games — two in November and two in December — the capacity could reach 21 percent (14,500), the maximum the facility can accommodate under current CDC guidelines, according to a statement released by the team on Thursday.

“We are thrilled to welcome fans back to Nissan Stadium and can’t thank (Nashville) Mayor (John) Cooper and the Metro Nashville Public Health Department enough for their collaboration in making this possible,” Titans president and CEO Burke Nihill said.

“The health and safety of our fans, players and staff remains our top priority and we felt like a gradual capacity plan was the right call, knowing that we may need to be flexible as time goes on. We feel confident that our Safe Stadium Plan will give everyone a safe and comfortable experience as they return to our gates.”

The Titans (1-0) opened the season Monday night with a 16-14 win at Denver. They face the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) in the home opener on Sunday in a game that will be closed to the general public.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2019; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) hands a fan a football after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Browns, Bengals to play two games each with limited fans

A limited number of pro football fans will be allowed to attend a limited number of games in Ohio in the 2020 season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Saturday that the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals each may have up to a total 6,000 fans in the stands at two predetermined home games on the season — but the games aren’t exactly against marquee teams.

Fans may attend the two AFC North divisional clashes between the two Ohio franchises — Sept. 17 when the Bengals visit Cleveland and Oct. 24 when the Browns travel to Cincinnati.

Fans also will be allowed at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland when the Browns host the Washington Football Team on Sept. 27, and at the Bengals’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 4 at Paul Brown Stadium.

No fans will be allowed in the stand for the Bengals’ home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 13.

The variance to the state sports order requires no more than 1,500 spectators on each side of the stadium. Fans must wear masks.

Both stadiums can accommodate about 65,000 fans.

“This year will certainly be different, but both the Browns and the Bengals have worked exceedingly hard and have made extensive preparations to welcome a limited number of fans to their stadiums safely,” DeWine said. “These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks.”

DeWine’s statement made no mention of expanding the variance to future games should the trial runs go well.

–Field Level Media