The AT&T Stadium in Arlington is preparing to welcome fans inside the stadium Sunday for the Cowboys home opener against the Atlanta Falcons.
In a statement Thursday from the Dallas Cowboys, the organization said an official seating capacity for the noon game has not been set at this time and “will likely not be determined until the weekend”. However, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said the stadium would at 25% on Wednesday.
“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our ticket holders and adhering to all of the protocols involved in providing the best environment possible - including the wearing of face masks by all our fans and exercising proper social distancing at AT&T Stadium,” the statement reads in part. “After consultation with state and local officials, we will start the season with a conservative approach in terms of the number of fans in the stadium, with the hope of being able to expand our seating capacity as the year evolves.”
The “Safe Stadium” policy includes the following:
- All fans and stadium employees will be required to wear a mask at all times, including stadium parking lots. Exceptions: eating and drinking or if under 10 years old.
- Fans must not come to the stadium if they have COVID-19, symptoms, or know they have been exposed.
- Fans are required to practice social distancing inside and outside the stadium.
- Tickets will be distributed in seat blocks known as “pods”. Fans are required to maintain “pod integrity” by only transferring tickets to family or friends within their trusted group.
- Mobile-only ticketing and cashless transactions
Dr. Diana Cervantes, an associate professor at UNTHSC, said the policies are a “start” but is reminding the public any large gatherings of people increase the risk of spreading COVID-19.
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“It’s not just while you’re sitting at the stadium,” Dr. Cervantes said. “It’s things that happen before and after the game, so you want to make sure that every time you’re planning as you go to game and then after the game, are you still avoiding those crowds?”
NBC 5 spoke with two lifelong fans who plan to go Sunday. Carolyn Price, better known as “Ms. Price” said she will do her part and maintain distance, adding she has masks ready to go – all Cowboys-themed.
“I’ll sit wherever where I’m scheduled to sit or I’m seated. I just want to see the Cowboys. I just want to enjoy the game. I just want to see them come out of the tunnel,” Price said. “Hopefully with it being at home and what few fans will be there, we’ll be able to support them enough to motivate them a little bit more. I think we’re going to be just fine.”
Jaime Castro said of the nearly 23 years he’s lived in Dallas, he has not missed a single home game. Outside the new policies, this Sunday will be no different.
“Sports unites. It’s the one common ground where we can all say, we love our team. We love the star and we’re there to root and we can put all of our differences aside,” Castro said. “What’s important is we’re back home. It’s our home away from home. I love being there with the fans and the energy but don’t get it wrong, we’re going to be there. We’re going be loud. We’re coming loud.”
Meanwhile, Arlington's mayor says his city is happy to have fans return.
"When you think about the Cowboys, the first thing you think of is that it is the most valuable sports franchise in the world, but it is also America's Team and literally people from all over the world fly in to see those games," said Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams. "Here in Arlington so many businesses and jobs are dependent upon those Cowboys games. It really makes a difference for so many of our citizens that we are having games with fans."
For more on the safety policies, click here.