Saints Exploring Creative Ways to Allow More Fans into Superdome amid COVID-19

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 09: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is lit up blue on April 09, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Landmarks and buildings across the nation are displaying blue lights to show support for health care workers and first responders on the front lines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

There remains plenty of uncertainty about the upcoming NFL season and whether fans will be allowed in stadiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Superdome in New Orleans is reportedly doing what it can to prepare creative ways to increase capacity.

According to Sean Fazende of Fox 8 New Orleans, ASM Global Vice President Doug Thornton revealed a plan for getting more people into the stadium while still adhering to social distancing policies keeping people six feet apart.

ASM Global is the managing company for the Superdome, where the New Orleans Saints play their home games.

"The Saints have been particularly good at using their business models to help us create a seating manifest that allows us to adhere to the six-foot distancing rule but also increase the capacity," Thornton said. "If we just took the six-foot rule and applied it on its face without any sort of creativity, you would bring your capacity to 17.5 percent; that would be about 13,000 fans in stands."

However, Thornton called such a number in a stadium that seats more than 74,000 "not acceptable," adding "we tried to get it to a higher level if we could. So we're exploring creating ways whether we seat people in pods of four, six or eight."

The NFL has not made any firm announcements about whether or not fans will be in attendance if and when the season starts.

On Tuesday, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported coaches could return to team facilities that have been closed by next week, which could clear the way for full-squad minicamps between June 15 and June 27.

Robinson also noted Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross told CNBC "right now—today—we're planning to have fans in the stadium." 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Peter King for his Football Morning in America column that he could envision a scenario where a portion of the stands were filled depending on the public health situation by September.