The Miami Dolphins don’t plan to immediately capitalize on Florida’s relaxed stadium regulations.
While the state’s Phase 3 reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic allows for stadiums at full capacity, the Dolphins say they’ll continue to keep Hard Rock Stadium at limited capacity for upcoming NFL games.
“Right now with [COVID-19] positivity rates where they are, we feel that we can keep people safe in a socially distanced environment, which is our 13,000 capacity manifest,” Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday.
It’s the Dolphins’ call after Fred Piccolo Jr., Florida governor Ron DeSantis' communications director, tweeted Wednesday that, "Just to be clear. Sports franchises, like most businesses under phase 3 can do as they see medically and safety wise in their best interests. There is no state clearance or anything of the sort."
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Dolphins to limit Hard Rock Stadium’s 65,000-fan capacity to 13,000. They have hosted a total of 23,444 fans through their first two home games. Their next home game is scheduled for Oct. 25 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers began welcoming 25 percent capacity in Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 4, while the Jacksonville Jaguars’ TIAA Bank Field has also been operating at 25 percent early this season. The Super Bowl is scheduled to be held in Tampa Bay in February.
The Dolphins’ statement came the same day as Florida’s deaths from COVID-19 complications exceeded 15,000. According to the Sun Sentinel, the Florida Department of Health reported Wednesday that 139 more people died in the state to bring the total to 15,084, including 14,904 residents. The latest seven-day average for Florida is about 2,300 cases and 90 deaths per day.
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