Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross spoke confidently on Tuesday when asked to assess the likelihood of the 2020 NFL season being played as scheduled.
“I think there definitely will be a football season this year,” Ross said in an appearance on CNBC.
Ross is not quite as certain about fans being permitted to attend games at the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, but management is working toward the goal of holding at least 15,000 fans in a checkerboard seating arrangement that meets social distancing standards. The franchise is also being certified in sanitation and cleanliness practices that could allow for a larger number of fans on gameday.
“[The] real question is: Will there be fans in the stadium? Right now, today, we’re planning to have fans in the stadium,” Ross said.
Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel released his limited-capacity plan publicly earlier this month. The Pittsburgh Steelers went forward with sales of single-game tickets but allotted only 50% of the stadium’s capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The NFL has not yet taken an official position on whether fans will be allowed into stadiums this season. Commissioner Roger Goodell said during the NFL draft the health and safety of fans would be of utmost importance, but the league isn’t planning to make a rushed decision on a subject that brings in huge revenue for teams.
The league released its schedule earlier this month, with the season opener set for 10 September in Kansas City. But team facilities remain closed and practice fields are empty in a first-of-its-kind offseason that has involved only virtual team meetings and workouts.