Sports | October 9, 2020 11:49 am

Sports Fans Can Pack Florida Stadiums to Full Capacity Due to DeSantis Ruling

Governor Ron DeSantis has lifted attendance restrictions in the Sunshine State

Sports Fans Can Pack Florida Stadiums to Full Capacity Due to Governor's Ruling
Fans during the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Governor Ron DeSantis lifted attendance restrictions at sporting events in the Sunshine State as part of Phase 3 of Florida’s re-opening amid the COVID-19 crisis.

That means venues in the state, including the stadiums of three NFL teams and many college football teams, can be packed to full capacity.

“Sports franchises can do as they please, they don’t need clearance from the state,” the governor’s press secretary, Cody McCloud, told NBC News.

The DeSantis decision could allow more than 67,000 fans to attend the Florida-Georgia game on November 7 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville if the schools decide to throw caution to the wind. No decision has been made.

Despite the ruling by the governor, the Miami Dolphins will continue to restrict Hard Rock Stadium to a 13,000-person capacity.

“We’ll continue to follow CDC guidelines and put everyone’s safety first and monitor things as they go,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel told ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “Right now with positivity rates where they are, we feel that we can keep people safe in a socially distanced environment, which is our 13,000 capacity.”

Though it is not clear what the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do, it sounds as if the Jaguars will follow the Dolphins’ lead.

“At this time there are no changes to attendance capacity or safety protocols at Jaguars games,” Jags Director of Communications Amanda Holt said in a statement. “Capacity will continue to be limited to 25 percent and masks must be worn inside the stadium at all times.”

Earlier in the week, Florida’s COVID-19 death toll surpassed more than 15,000 people. As local governments and school districts carried on with reopening plans, the state detected more than 2,500 new coronavirus cases.

Florida’s death toll from the virus is the fifth highest in the country overall and the 12th highest per capita at more than 69 deaths per 100,000 people, according to Associated Press data.

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