TAMPA, Fla. — For the first time this season, Tampa Bay Bucs and USF Bulls players will hear actual fans cheer them on from the stands.
The Bucs and the Bulls both held their home openers without fans earlier in the month due to coronavirus concerns.
The two teams revealed their plans to bring back fans for football games at Raymond James Stadium Tuesday afternoon, alongside the Tampa Sports Authority.
The presentation comes just days before the Bucs welcome back fans for their home game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, October 4.
Tickets for this Sunday's game will be opened up to long-time season pass members — folks who have been loyal to the team since the ’70s!
“It just comes down to what those most tenured fans are going to redeem, but roughly under 10,000 people as well what we expect,” said Brian Ford, the CEO of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After that, they’ll allow another 6,000 or so fans in which totals about 25% capacity.
Fans will not be allowed to tailgate, tickets will be mobile, and once you’re in Ray Jay, you’ll have to wear a mask when you’re not eating or drinking.
“Were very comfortable with the protocol that we put in place in the policies and procedures,” Ford said. "We have worked closely with the TSA and local authorities to ensure that Raymond James Stadium is ready to host our fans for the remainder of this highly anticipated season. Game days may seem a little different this season, but we remain as committed as ever to providing our fans with the first-in-class experience they have grown to expect."
Bathrooms are touch-less now, you can order food and drinks on your phone, and pick them up, plus, there will be enhanced cleaning of high touch surfaces and all staff will be masked.
Fans will be assigned to pods so small groups can stay together and away from other groups. They want to keep people who live in the same household, or trusted acquaintances to be seated together.
USF is following suit and will also allow around 16,000 fans inside.
“With all the work that’s gone into it, it makes a lot of sense to work off the same physically distanced manifest,” said Michael Kelly, the USF Athletics Vice President.
And unrelated to COVID-19, the Bucs say the stadium is now equipped with 5G capability in preparation for the SuperBowl. Plus, they have new LED field lights with 2.1 million color combinations.
“It’s just taking a great facility for football and making it even better,” Kelly said. "We are fortunate to have terrific partners like the Tampa Sports Authority and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the tremendous investment in Raymond James Stadium to help create what I think will be the safest and most comfortable guest experience in college football when our fans return."
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