Sep 20, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA;  General view of the field after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Bucs plan to admit more fans after governor’s order

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will open Raymond James Stadium to fans next weekend, now that Gov. Ron DeSantis has lifted restrictions on businesses throughout Florida.

On Friday, DeSantis signed an executive order that removed all rules that impacted businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said.

So the Buccaneers, who hadn’t planned on a return of fans until Week 6, will allow a limited number of spectators when they play the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 4.

While the team did not specify a target number, the Tampa Bay Times said attendance will be capped at 10,000. Beginning with the Oct. 18 game against the Green Bay Packers, Raymond James Stadium will be limited to 25 percent capacity, or 16,250, the Times said.

“We have been working tirelessly with local and state authorities, as well as medical experts, to ensure a safe environment at Raymond James Stadium,” Buccaneers COO Brian Ford said. “We are ready and excited to welcome our fans back.”

Only longtime season-ticket holders will have a chance to see quarterback Tom Brady lead the offense, however.

For the Chargers game, season seat holders who have held their tickets since 1998 or earlier will be given the first chance to but tickets. For the remaining home schedule, the Bucs will hold a “priority presale” for season pass members who kept their 2020 payments as credit toward 2021 games having the chance to buy limited tickets for up to two games.

As of Saturday, Florida’s other teams – the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Miami Dolphins – had not announced any modifications to their attendance plans.

Florida is the third in the United States in total cases of COVID-19 — trailing California and Texas — at almost 700,000 and reported 2,847 new cases in the past day, Johns Hopkins University reported.

–Field Level Media