Sports | August 25, 2020 10:33 am

Miami Dolphins Reveal Controversial Plan to Allow 13,000 Fans at Home Games

Miami will allow up to 13,000 masked fans to attend the team's home opener

Miami Dolphins Reveal Controversial Plan to Allow 13,000 Fans at Games
Miami Dolphins fans pose for a photo during an NFL football game.
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the Miami Dolphins host their first home game less than a month from now, the team plans to have up to 13,000 masked, socially distancing fans in attendance.

Miami’s plan to allow that many fans at their home opener against the Bills on September 20 has drawn criticism from some, notably Buffalo coach Sean McDermott. Per orders from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Buffalo is not permitted to have fans at Bills Stadium.

“I think it’s honestly ridiculous that there will be … what appears to be a playing field that is like that,” McDermott said Monday. “Inconsistently across the league with the different away stadiums.”

While the Dolphins are one of at least eight NFL teams that are hoping to have a limited number of fans in attendance during home games, 15 of the league’s 32 teams have already ruled out hosting spectators to start the season.

Democratic Rep. Donna Shalala, whose congressional district includes much of Miami, also expressed concern about the Dolphins’ plan, albeit for a different reason than McDermott’s problem with his opponents having a competitive advantage.

“It is very difficult to open anything when you have community spread,” she said Monday. “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.” 

Speaking Monday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis expressed an opposing viewpoint. “Look, we’ve been watching sports on TV,” DeSantis said. “But when you watch the NBA with an empty arena, or Major League Baseball with an empty stadium, it’s just not quite the same. I know this isn’t going to be people falling from the rafters here, but I think it is something that will give people a little bit of hope.”

If Miami actually gets 13,000 fans through the gates for the opener, attendance at the Dolphins-Bills game will be about 20 percent of the stadium’s 65,326-seat capacity.

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