Super Bowl LV may see its crowd numbers limited to 20 percent of stadium capacity, according to a tweet by ESPN reporter Adam Schefter Wednesday afternoon. The game is scheduled for February 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. This is the first report indicating that the Super Bowl crowd might be limited amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite stated hopes by Florida’s Governor that the game feature a full crowd.
“NFL currently is planning for 20 percent seating capacity at Super Bowl LV in Tampa,” reads the tweet from Schefter, posted at 2:35 PM Wednesday. “Fans will be in pods six feet apart and masks will be required.”
With a capacity of approximately 65,000, those figures would lead to a crowd of 13-15,000 people for the game in February.
Attendance has been limited or prohibited entirely at every NFL venue throughout the 2020 season. The NFL has generally allowed teams and the local health and government authorities to determine crowd capacity limits, which has led to a patchwork of varying crowd sizes. Dallas has averaged just shy of 25 percent of the stated capacity at AT&T Stadium, drawing 24,262 fans per game over its four home dates thus far. At the other end of the spectrum is Arizona, which has allowed a test crowd of 1,200 (1.8 percent capacity) at a single home game thus far. A total of 13 franchises have not yet hosted any fans, though a number have plans to in the future assuming local authorities don’t shut those plans down amid rising case rates in the community.
Tampa Bay, which hosts the game, has had fans at two home games, averaging 10,961 fans (16.7 percent capacity). The team had held off from hosting fans at the start of the season, but began opening its doors last month. Miami and Jacksonville, the two other professional football teams that call the Sunshine State home, have allowed fans since their home openers.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a republican, has been vocal in his hopes of hosting a full capacity Super Bowl in Tampa. He said so directly in his announcement related to bringing Florida to its Phase 3 reopening, which included allowing live music venues to reopen at full capacity.
“I think you can do much more than what’s been done,” DeSantis said, speaking of the Buccaneers going two weeks of home games with empty stands despite the state allowing them to host in-person. “Outdoor transmission (of the coronavirus) has just not been a major factor. It doesn’t mean it can’t happen. It doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can think about in some of these venues. But I’d like to have fans in some capacity and then let’s build going forward.”
“It’s not really a question of government. It’s really what the league’s been comfortable with,” he said. “I very much support the Bucs having fans. We expect to do a full Super Bowl, and we’re going to show that we’re going to be able to do that.”
We will update this story with additional detail as it becomes available.