CLEVELAND — On Thursday night, the Cleveland Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals in their 2020 home opener.
For at least the first two home games of the season, however, games at FirstEnergy Stadium will look a lot different, with only 6,000 fans permitted to attend as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Ahead of Thursday's home opener, Browns Chief Operating Officer David Jenkins and VP of Finance and Administration Greg Rush met with reporters via teleconference to unveil the team's "Return To Stadium" plan, which includes the following seven key principles for hosting home games:
- Social and physical distancing, including separation in seating pods
- Mandated masks and face coverings for all in attendance
- Health screenings for Browns employees, a fan health promise that anyone attending the game isn't experiencing symptoms.
- Robust cleaning and disinfecting of the stadium for before and after games
- Extensive hygiene protocols for staff and fans
- Training, proper signage and communication
- Accountability, adaptability and flexibility to the plan and new information
Other detail revealed on Tuesday include the following:
- The Browns were hoping to host between 17 percent and 24 percent of FirstEnergy Stadium's capacity. While the 6,000 fan allowance is short of that, the Browns are excited about being able to host any number fans.
- For at least the first two games, the upper bowl of FirstEnergy Stadium will be closed. Fans will be distributed between the lower level and club.
- The Browns haven't filed variance request asking for more fans beyond the first two games.
- FirstEnergy Stadium will be a cashless environment. Cash to card machines will be available for those carrying cash.
- 50 percent of season ticket holders have opted out of their tickets this season.
- Out of an abundance of caution, the Browns are maintaining full staffing levels.
- The mask policy will be strictly enforced and those breaking it may receive as few as just one warning. A prosecutor will be on-site as well to help handle potential fines.
Asked why the Browns were adamant about hosting fans this season, Jenkins said: "Our fans really do create a home-field advantage. And our players have been outspoken about how they feel about our fans."