MIAMI GARDENS (CBSMiami) — Dolphins fans will be allowed to attend the 2020 home opener at Hard Rock Stadium but 13,000 fans is the maximum number.

The Miami Dolphins and Hard Rock Stadium announced a limited stadium capacity for its first regular season home game on September 20 when the Dolphins face the Buffalo Bills.

The same plan will be followed for the University of Miami’s home opener against UAB on Sept. 10.

Crowd size will be about 20% of the stadium’s 65,326-seat capacity, with the limitation imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we started the process back in March of exploring what a socially-distanced stadium could look like, we made the health and safety of everyone the first priority; knowing that if we felt that we couldn’t make it safe, we simply wouldn’t have fans,” said Miami Dolphins Vice Chairman and CEO Tom Garfinkel. “We’re happy that our elected officials recognize the attention to detail and diligence that we’ve put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time.”

(Courtesy: Miami Dolphins)

The organization conducted a thorough review starting in late March of the fan experience with the intent to provide minimal contact for guests and announced a series of initiatives in July designed to create a safe environment in 2020.

Gov. Ron DeSantis was at Monday’s press conference. He’s a fan of the plan.

“I think that having something to look forward to does give people a bit of hope. I think this is a good sign that the Dolphins are being so thorough about their plan. This is obviously a limited plan. But if you look at what they’ve done, it’s really, really well thought out and probably they thought of things that that I would not have thought of,” the governor said.

Policies for the 2020 season will include:

  • GBAC Star certification
  • Socially distanced seating clusters
  • All fans and stadium employees will be required to wear a mask when not actively eating or drinking
  • Upgrading Air Conditioning filters from Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) 10 to MERV 14 (Hospital Grade)
  • Mobile touchless entry with more points of entries and exits to help avoid bottlenecks at ingress/egress
  • Staggered gate entry with entry times listed on game tickets
  • Cashless experience for food service, parking and retail
  • New walk through metal detectors with touchless security screening to allow fans to keep all items in their pockets for faster entry
  • 1 metal detector for every 104 fans vs 1 metal detector for every 394 fans in 2019
  • Changing from manual to contactless toilets and faucets
  • No smoking inside the stadium or helixes
  • No tailgating for 2020 season with parking lots open two hours before kickoff instead of four hours

Upon entry, fans will go through a touchless security scan.

(Courtesy: Miami Dolphins)

Food, beverage, parking and retail will become a cashless experience supported by in-app mobile and credit card payment options. Express pickup for food and beverage will also be available. Fans will receive SMS notifications when their order is ready. Dolphins members/season ticket holders will continue to receive their food, beverage, and retail discount when ordering in the Dolphins mobile app or paying at point-of-sale terminals.

All manual faucets, toilet handles, toilets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers have been changed to automatic sensors to provide a touchless restroom experience.

(Courtesy: Miami Dolphins)

These programs are in addition to Hard Rock Stadium becoming the first stadium in the world to receive GBAC STAR™ accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association. Hard Rock Stadium completed 20 program elements focused on cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention practices to control risks associated with infectious agents.

DeSantis hopes this becomes a model for other stadiums across the state.

“We look forward to both the Bucs and the Jags following something similar. I know they’re working on their plans,” he said. “Also, I think it’s great that the University of Miami is going to have a kind of a plug-and -lay model to be able to come in here, and I know our other colleges and universities are working on that as well.”

The governor said the Dolphins announcement comes at a time when the COVID trend is downward statewide.

He said overall hospitalizations and the positivity rate statewide are lower after a spike in July.

Broward’s positivity rate has been below 5% for several days.

But not all reaction to the Dolphins’ plan was favorable.

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.”

Bills 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.

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Season ticket holders will have first priority to purchase tickets based on their tenure.

All season ticket holders will have the option to roll their 2020 payments into the 2021 season and retain all of their tenure, seats and associated benefits, and any season ticket members who may be considered at-risk based on CDC guidelines will be strongly encouraged to exercise the 2021 option and stay at home in 2020.

Deposits are currently being accepted for suites and single game ticket information will be made available at a later time.

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