The NFL is moving forward with plans for a reduced-capacity Super Bowl LV, to be played Feb. 7 even if the league ultimately adds an 18th week to its regular season.
At this point, the NFL is planning to hold capacity to 20% at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium, which normally holds 65,000 fans. With temporary seating, its capacity could have been enlarged to nearly 75,000. Fans will be in pods 6 feet apart and masks will be required.
“The safety of the public, attendees, players and personnel continues to be our foremost priority. We are working on a host of Super Bowl plans, including gameday, in conjunction with the host committee and the appropriate local and county public health and government officials,” the NFL said in a statement.
“There is no set capacity figure at this time as we continue to monitor the ongoing pandemic with more than three months to go before the Super Bowl on February 7. There have been 19 teams that have already or have been authorized by public authorities to host regular season games. The average has been around 20 percent with fans seated in pods and everyone wearing face coverings. Among the scenarios we are exploring is a capacity of around that figure but we anticipate it could grow as we get closer to the game.”
During the regular season, the NFL has left attendance decisions to home teams in conjunction with state and local authorities. Half of the league’s teams have had paid attendance for at least one game; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hosted an average of 10,961 fans at two home games.
As it maneuvers through the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL has kept open the possibility of pushing back the Super Bowl for up to four weeks in order to complete its regular season. But it would prefer to keep it on schedule if at all possible, and at this point all rescheduled games have been fit under the existing 17-week structure.
If the league needs an extra week to finish the regular season, it will eliminate the extra week that is normally scheduled between the Super Bowl and the NFC and AFC Championship Games.