Dec 29, 2019; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) hands a fan a football after scoring a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Browns, Bengals to play two games each with limited fans

A limited number of pro football fans will be allowed to attend a limited number of games in Ohio in the 2020 season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced Saturday that the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals each may have up to a total 6,000 fans in the stands at two predetermined home games on the season — but the games aren’t exactly against marquee teams.

Fans may attend the two AFC North divisional clashes between the two Ohio franchises — Sept. 17 when the Bengals visit Cleveland and Oct. 24 when the Browns travel to Cincinnati.

Fans also will be allowed at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland when the Browns host the Washington Football Team on Sept. 27, and at the Bengals’ game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 4 at Paul Brown Stadium.

No fans will be allowed in the stand for the Bengals’ home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sept. 13.

The variance to the state sports order requires no more than 1,500 spectators on each side of the stadium. Fans must wear masks.

Both stadiums can accommodate about 65,000 fans.

“This year will certainly be different, but both the Browns and the Bengals have worked exceedingly hard and have made extensive preparations to welcome a limited number of fans to their stadiums safely,” DeWine said. “These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks.”

DeWine’s statement made no mention of expanding the variance to future games should the trial runs go well.

–Field Level Media

Feb 26, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA;  General overall view of snow outside of Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Colts to have up to 2,500 fans at home opener

The Indianapolis Colts said Friday they will allow a maximum of 2,500 spectators at their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings on Sept. 20 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That attendance figure was determined after discussions with the Marion County (Ind.) Public Health Department and is in accordance with local, NFL and CDC guidelines to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the team said.

“Our top priority always will be the health and safety of fans, players and staff, so we must take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe, which includes a reduced stadium capacity on gameday,” Colts COO Pete Ward said in a statement. “We will continue to work with local health officials on steps that will allow our season to go on as safely as possible with fans in the stands. And we continue to appreciate the patience of all our fans as we navigate the fluid nature of this pandemic.”

The average attendance for Colts games last season was 61,110.

Still, the Colts are among only a handful of teams allowing any fans through the gates for their home openers amid the ongoing pandemic. Others operating at a reduced capacity include the Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2019; Orlando, Florida, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Re-al Mitchell (6) throws the ball against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the second half at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa State: No football fans as local COVID-19 cases soar

Iowa State reversed course on Wednesday, announcing the Cyclones will play their season opener without fans at Jack Trice Stadium as cases of COVID-19 soar in their community.

Ames, Iowa, where the Big 12 campus is located, was identified by The New York Times on Monday as the nation’s No. 1 hotspot for the coronavirus, with 8.2 new cases per every 1,000 residents. Story County, where Ames is located, has a 14-day positivity rate of 21.3 percent, with four out of every five positive cases among people ages 18-40, according to the report.

The Times report came the same day the school announced the stadium could have 25,000 fans for the Cyclones’ opener on Sept. 12 against Louisiana-Lafayette, with various protocols put in place.

“Over the weekend, [university president Wendy] Wintersteen gave our working group the approval to move forward with the plans that were jointly developed,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement released by the school. “Our department announced those plans on Monday, which included allowing fans, who purchased season tickets, to attend the first game.

“President Wintersteen shared with me on Tuesday evening that, after weighing feedback she has received from the community, she has decided to reverse the decision. As a result, we will play the season opener without fans.”

Stadium capacity is about 60,000.

Dr. John Paschen, the chairman of the Story County Board of Health, on Monday labeled Iowa State’s first decision as “irresponsible.”

The athletic department released COVID-19 test results on Wednesday that showed eight athletes, out of 207 student-athletes tested Aug. 24-29, were positive for the virus. In 1,203 tests conducted between June 8 and Aug. 29, 49 student-athletes were shown to have the virus.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2019; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) greets fans during Tiger Walk prior to a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Clemson football to allow 19,000 fans in stadium

Clemson football will play its home games this fall with about one-quarter of the usual number of fans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The university announced it will limit attendance at 81,500-seat Memorial Stadium, known as “Death Valley,” to about 19,000 fans. They will be scattered in small clusters of two or four people, and all fans must wear masks.

“Clemson sought input from external medical, public health and facility planning experts during the process, as well as the University Strategic Operations Group,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said in a news release. “With the information available today, we are confident in our ability to safely allow fans at games, which is incredibly important to our student-athletes, coaches, fans and local community. We’ll continue to monitor guidance and make adjustments if necessary.”

The announcement was welcomed by players.

“We thought it was just going to be us out there. To be able to have just that amount of people is a huge blessing,” defensive back Andrew Booth said. An empty stadium “would feel like we were out there doing scrimmages. This is going to be beautiful.”

Clemson, the No. 1 team in the nation in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, is scheduled to open its home season on Sept. 19 against The Citadel.

–Field Level Media

Sep 9, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of the exterior of U.S. Bank Stadium prior to the game between the Minnesota Vikings and San Francisco 49ers. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

No fans allowed at Vikings’ first two home games

The Minnesota Vikings’ first two home games will be closed to the public due to ongoing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vikings are scheduled to host the rival Green Bay Packers in the season opener at U.S. Bank Stadium on Sept. 13. They will face the Tennessee Titans in Minneapolis on Sept. 27.

“Ultimately, public health is our top priority,” the team said in a news release on Tuesday. “Based on our conversations and the current Minnesota Department of Health guidelines that specify an indoor venue capacity of 250, we have determined it is not the right time to welcome fans back to U.S. Bank Stadium.”

The enclosed stadium, which opened in 2016, has a capacity for nearly 67,000 fans for football.

“We will continue to work with the appropriate officials on our plans with the hopes of bringing fans back in a safe manner later this season,” the team said.

The Vikings joined a growing list of NFL teams who will begin the season with no fans in the seats, including the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, New England Patriots, New York Jets and Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans and the Washington Football Team.

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; General overall view of statue of former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino (13) at Hard Rock Stadium prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins plan for 13K fans at Sept. 20 home opener

A maximum of 13,000 fans will be allowed at Hard Rock Stadium for the Miami Dolphins’ home game on Sept. 20 against the Buffalo Bills.

Socially distanced clusters of seats and required masks are among the precautions the team announced Monday.

“We’re happy that our elected officials recognize the attention to detail and diligence that we’ve put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said.

The Dolphins open the season Sept. 13 against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots announced the team will not have fans at games for at least the month of September.

Many teams are not permitting fans this season, and some are taking a more measured approach before determining how long they’ll play in empty stadiums.

The Kansas City Chiefs and visiting Houston Texans open the season on Sept. 10 at Arrowhead Stadium. At least 10,000 fans will be permitted in the stadium for the opener unless coronavirus cases increase and require new health and distances guidelines.

According to the Dolphins, their season ticket holders will have first priority to purchase tickets based on their tenure. Any season ticket holder who may be considered at-risk based on CDC guidelines will be strongly encouraged to exercise the 2021 option and stay at home in 2020, the team said Monday.

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; General overall view of statue of former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino (13) at Hard Rock Stadium prior to Super Bowl LIV between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins plan for 13K fans at Sept. 20 home opener

A maximum of 13,000 fans will be allowed at Hard Rock Stadium for the Miami Dolphins’ home game on Sept. 20 against the Buffalo Bills.

Socially distanced clusters of seats and required masks are among the precautions the team announced Monday.

“We’re happy that our elected officials recognize the attention to detail and diligence that we’ve put into creating a safe environment and that they made the decision to move forward with a 13,000-capacity stadium at this time,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel said.

The Dolphins open the season Sept. 13 against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots announced the team will not have fans at games for at least the month of September.

Many teams are not permitting fans this season, and some are taking a more measured approach before determining how long they’ll play in empty stadiums.

The Kansas City Chiefs and visiting Houston Texans open the season on Sept. 10 at Arrowhead Stadium. At least 10,000 fans will be permitted in the stadium for the opener unless coronavirus cases increase and require new health and distances guidelines.

According to the Dolphins, their season ticket holders will have first priority to purchase tickets based on their tenure. Any season ticket holder who may be considered at-risk based on CDC guidelines will be strongly encouraged to exercise the 2021 option and stay at home in 2020, the team said Monday.

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; General view of Denver Broncos fans during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos, Lions playing early games without fans

The Denver Broncos will play their home opener and the Detroit Lions will play their first two home games without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams announced Friday.

The Broncos kick off the season at Empower Field at Mile High on Monday night Sept. 14 against the Tennessee Titans. The stadium’s normal capacity is 76,125 for football.

“We are grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm that Broncos fans have shown this year,” the team said in a press release. “… But this is the responsible thing to do right now.”

The Broncos are hoping to host a “limited number of fans on a gradually increasing basis” as the season goes on. Their second home game is Sept. 27 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions’ first two home dates at 65,000-seat Ford Field are Sept. 13 against the rival Chicago Bears and Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.

The Lions said a decision about their third home game, Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, and other dates will be determined after further evaluation.

“Lions fans have traditionally created an intimidating environment for visiting teams at Ford Field,” the team said in a statement. “… We are hopeful for an opportunity to host fans at the remaining six 2020 home games.”

Both teams said these decisions were made in conjunction with state and local officials and with the health and safety of fans, players and stadium staff members as the top priority.

The Broncos and Lions joined a growing list of NFL teams who will begin the season without fans, including the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Titans, Bears, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Giants and the Washington Football Team.

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; General view of Denver Broncos fans during the first quarter against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos, Lions playing early games without fans

The Denver Broncos will play their home opener and the Detroit Lions will play their first two home games without spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams announced Friday.

The Broncos kick off the season at Empower Field at Mile High on Monday night Sept. 14 against the Tennessee Titans. The stadium’s normal capacity is 76,125 for football.

“We are grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm that Broncos fans have shown this year,” the team said in a press release. “… But this is the responsible thing to do right now.”

The Broncos are hoping to host a “limited number of fans on a gradually increasing basis” as the season goes on. Their second home game is Sept. 27 against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Lions’ first two home dates at 65,000-seat Ford Field are Sept. 13 against the rival Chicago Bears and Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Saints.

The Lions said a decision about their third home game, Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, and other dates will be determined after further evaluation.

“Lions fans have traditionally created an intimidating environment for visiting teams at Ford Field,” the team said in a statement. “… We are hopeful for an opportunity to host fans at the remaining six 2020 home games.”

Both teams said these decisions were made in conjunction with state and local officials and with the health and safety of fans, players and stadium staff members as the top priority.

The Broncos and Lions joined a growing list of NFL teams who will begin the season without fans, including the Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Titans, Bears, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Giants and the Washington Football Team.

–Field Level Media

Jan 12, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Fans dance with the Kansas City Chiefs mascot during the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Divisional playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs ban headdresses, reviewing ‘Arrowhead Chop’

The Kansas City Chiefs announced Thursday they are banning fans from wearing headdresses or face paint that “references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions” at Arrowhead Stadium.

The team is also “engaged in a thorough review process of the Arrowhead Chop and plan to have additional discussions in the future,” according to a news release.

In the release, the Chiefs referred to starting a dialogue with local Native American leaders in 2014, adding that they “recently expanded our efforts through consultation with a national organization that works closely on issues affecting American Indian people and tribes.”

Those discussions led to the changes regarding headdresses and face paint.

In addition to reviewing the “chop,” the team said it is “exploring all options” to modify its pregame demonstration from the “drum deck,” where traditionally a celebrity bangs the drum while fans all perform the “chop.”

The change comes as sports teams across the continent are making or considering changes to names and imagery that many view as racist or insensitive toward Native Americans.

The Washington Football Team dropped their longtime name and logo last month, and the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Football Team dropped their name soon after.

Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Indians are in active discussions about a name change, while the Atlanta Braves said they are not changing their name but will evaluate their own tomahawk chop.

The Chiefs announced earlier this week that Arrowhead Stadium will be reduced to 22 percent capacity, or around 17,000 fans, this season due to the coronavirus pandemic. The defending champions are scheduled to open the season at home on Sept. 10 against the Houston Texans.

–Field Level Media