Many NFL Teams Have Already Said They Won’t Host Fans At Their Games If There’s A 2020 Season. But The Cowboys Maintain That AT&T Stadium Will. Here’s How.
The 2020 NFL season — if it happens at all — won’t look much like the NFL to which fans have become accustomed.
No, the league won’t be entering into a “bubble” likes its NBA counterparts, but the league won’t exactly be playing in front of packed stadiums as has become its norm. A number of teams have already committed to playing at least part of their season with no fans at all in the stands, and others are planning to do so in extremely limited capacities.
The Dallas Cowboys, we can now confirm, fall into the latter camp.
After a week in which team owner Jerry Jones finally broke his silence and vaguely suggested that, despite past controversies in the matter, would “show grace” to players hoping to kneel in protest during pregame national anthem performances, the Cowboys issued a press release today detailing its plans to host fans for its home games at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium during the 2020 season.
The highlights of the plan include limited attendance capacities in accordance with state guidelines, opening the stadium roof when weather permits, using “pod” seating concepts, requiring employees and fans to wear face masks (except when actively eating or drinking), limiting tailgating space in the parking lots, utilizing mobile-only ticketing services, removing all cash transactions from the stadium and instituting a “frictionless” stadium entry procedure. Emphasizing “transparency,” the plan also indicates plans for increased cleaning, staffing and food service safety measures.
It’s pretty easy to see why Jones is so eager to welcome fans back into his stadium: The most valuable sports franchise in the world, the Cowboys’ stadium revenue checked in at a cool $621 million in 2018 — almost double the $315 million that the league’s second-highest earner, the New England Patriots, pulled in from stadium operations that same year.
While clearly worth pushing forward for the Jones family’s pockets, will allowing fans be worth it for the players on the field? Players for FC Dallas, who were booed by their own fans as they kneeled during the national anthem at Toyota Stadium in Frisco last night before the first FC Dallas game fans were allowed to attend since the MLS returned to play, might suggest otherwise.
Then again, Jones and the Cowboys — who are still making big free agent plays in hopes of returning to Super Bowl contention this year — haven’t exactly always been on the right side of history.
Here’s a detailed look at the social distancing plans being put into place at AT&T Stadium for now, in the Cowboys’ own press releases words:
- Limited Stadium Capacity. Capacity at AT&T Stadium will be limited to start the 2020 season, in accordance with guidelines from the CDC, the State of Texas, local public safety and public health authorities. Fans are required to practice social distancing inside and outside of AT&T Stadium, including parking lots, entry queues and seating. With 15 dedicated entries and exits, in addition to the 3 million square feet of club, concourse and corridor space, fans will have ample space to practice social distancing. Weather permitting, AT&T Stadium’s unique retractable roof and end zone door design gives the ability to maximize fresh air flow throughout the building, along with the capability of circulating 840,000 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of fresh air through its mechanical system.
- Mask Policy. Consistent with NFL and local Public Safety and Health policy, all fans will be required to wear a mask when transiting from their personal or public transportation to AT&T Stadium including while in stadium parking lots. In addition, all fans and stadium employees will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when they are actively eating or drinking or if under ten years of age.
- Seating. Tickets will be distributed in seat blocks known as “pods” to maintain distance between groups who are not known to one another. Fans are required to maintain pod integrity by only transferring tickets to family or friends within their trusted group. Each ticket holder should have their own mobile ticket on their device.
- Mobile-Only Ticketing. Beginning this season, all tickets at AT&T Stadium will be digital and available through fans’ mobile devices. Tickets purchased from the Dallas Cowboys will be available via the Dallas Cowboys or SeatGeek mobile app. In order to provide a contactless experience for fans, there will no longer be physical tickets.
- Cashless Experience. Beginning this season, all food, beverage, parking and retail will become a cashless experience. Major credit and debit cards, as well as mobile pay will be accepted throughout AT&T Stadium.
- Frictionless Entry. Fans will have frictionless entry to stadium parking lots and will go through a frictionless security scan using 60 socially distanced metal detectors to enter AT&T Stadium. We will take every step possible to ensure ingress and egress at each of AT&T Stadium’s 15 entries is smooth, swift, and safe.
- Tailgating. Designated spaces for tailgating will be available in select AT&T Stadium lots. To promote physical distancing, at least one space between vehicles is required in the tailgating spots and parties will not be permitted to comingle.
- Stadium Cleaning. AT&T Stadium will be following guidelines from the CDC and has consulted outside medical and infectious disease experts to put a thorough cleaning and disinfecting plan in place using single-use microfiber wipes, single-use microfiber mop heads and EPA registered products including electrostatic and fogging sprays. Procedures include cleaning and disinfecting prior to every event, as well as disinfecting high touchpoint areas regularly throughout events. Fans will have access to over 300 additional hand sanitization stations located throughout AT&T Stadium.
- Staffing Protocols. Our front-line stadium employees are working hard to prepare for this season, and we will be providing them with all possible assistance to help them safely do their jobs. This includes providing them with special training on CDC recommended guidelines, as well as the personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to do their job, including masks and other specialized equipment. Vendors working at AT&T Stadium will be abiding by all stadium health and safety policies.
- Food and Beverage. Staff at concession stands, catering spaces, and all bars will be trained on CDC recommended guidelines, wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), following enhanced handwashing procedures and maintaining cleaning and sanitization protocols of food and beverage contact surfaces. All food items will be served in to-go containers along with pre-packaged disposable ware and condiments.
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