What is it Like Attending a NFL Game in 2020?

I decided to attend the Miami Dolphins game this past weekend, a week 4 matchup in the 2020 NFL season. Admittedly, my interest is high because Russel Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks came to town – if you don’t know I am a fan of the now 4-0 Seahawks.  However, this is not a referendum on “letting Russ cook,” or why the Seahawks, but rather a look into what it is like to attend a NFL football game in 2020 during this pandemic.

seattle seahawks at miami dolphins oct 4 2020 field photo

Go Seahawks

As you may have noticed, few NFL stadiums are allowing fans. In fact, only seven teams of the 32 NFL teams are moving forward with fans.  The Miami Dolphins actually led the way too. They were the first to detail their plans to the NFL and local government. They also received a distinction on their protocols to ensure a safe and fun fan experience with a GBAC star.  So, thank you Miami Dolphins for moving the ball forward in these times.

Ah, the moved forward, but did they score a TD?  Yes, the question remains – what is the experience like? Is it worth it?

Hard Rock Stadium Entrance for Miami Dolphins Game

All the space, where is the tailgate? :-(

Let’s Start With What’s Missing from the NFL Fan Experience?

No tailgate. The lack of tailgating makes it almost seem not a complete game experience for those who appreciate the pre (and even post) game party. The parking lots filled with food, friends, and the football family is paramount to the Sunday NFL experience.  I missed it.

NFL Tailgate 2020 Miami Dolphins

The 2020 Tailgate in the closed car

Plus, the fans are limited too. Thirteen thousand plus attended the game instead the potential sold out 60,000. Most games around the league have under 20,000 in the stands. NFL stadiums are keeping to 20-25% capacity. This creates a lack of cheers (or lack of cheer volume) on a crucial third downs, for a touchdown, or any boos raining down from the seats when the ref makes a bad call.  It may not be as loud, but as players mentioned, there is still some noise.

Any Positives for the NFL Experience in 2020? (Not Talking Testing)  

YES, actually many things actually work to a fan’s advantage. Not unlike when my thoughts on Disney after my return to Disney, there are NO lines anywhere.  Even with every other urinal blocked off for social distancing – no waiting at the restroom.  In fact, I made it back to my seat on a simple TV timeout once even picking up beverages on the return. Impressive.

Food and drinks were also essentially lineless except for a small wait at halftime.  But if waiting on the marked 6 foot socially distant lines for a few minutes was too much patrons can even order food via your smartphone from your seat for pickup too.  Regardless of where you order your food or drinks, it will be all cashless, so bring your credit cards.

Another BIG positive was having space in the seats. Of course NFL stadiums offer more space than college, but we had the entire row to ourselves. No one to get up for coming through at crucial points in the game, no one directly in front of us to block your views and no one behind us to bump our chairs either. Plus, all these unused (not ticketed) seats were blocked off too.  Ticket holders essentially have a social distant radius of space to enjoy the game with solely whomever they came with.

But this also means, no chances to move up sections or escape the weather. Thankfully my seats were under the roof and not in the direct sun for the game.

Is it Covid Safe?

Social distancing wasn’t the only precaution at the stadium. A “covid swat team” armed with disinfectant circulated the stadium to clean common areas throughout the game.

Hard Rock Stadium Covid Cleaning Swat Team during the Dolphins Game

wiping down the handrails at the stadium during the game

All ushers held signs, “please put on your mask,” and the jumbotron offered reminders frequently with messages often filmed with Dolphin players telling people to be safe, wash hands, and wear your mask.

Mask Up

From the first moment of walking to the stadium through the game in your assigned seats its masks up, except when eating and drinking in the seats. So bring a water bottle (a sealed plastic bottle is allowed) or buy beverages time in the seats, to get a mask break. Beer works – just saying, it’s football.

Happier without a mask in the stadium

I wore my mask too, but I often kept a beer to enhance the situation and allow for “mask breaks.”

Should I Go to a Game?

I am not you, it’s a decision everyone needs to make for themselves. And honestly, I am happiest that in Florida we have the decision to make.  Of course, with the Seahawks playing locally, they would be on TV in my house, so why did I make the trip instead of tailgating in my backyard with local lobster instead of buying tickets? Trust me I thought about it, but in the end I wanted to go to the game.  I enjoy attending sporting events and enjoyed this one too.

Also, you can rest easy, the fans who decide to attend, are fans of the game and they get it. They were respectful. They wore masks, stayed distant and all had a good time. The casual fan is not attending in these times.  Plus for many team fans, the open stadiums present a road trip opportunity. Yes, the stadium was full of Seahawks fans and it was great to cheer among fellow 12s (fans of the Seahawks)

At one point, the stay luxurious side of me was in conversations about securing a luxury suite for the game (perfect for the upcoming release of stayluxrious.com.) After talking to the stadium contact, I learned many visiting team families and fans are securing boxes in Miami. For example, the Dolphin’s first home opponent Buffalo will only play one game in front of fans all year. Therefore, the Bills Mafia coveted some boxes and tickets as did the Seahawk 12s.

Russel Wilson Postgame

Russel Wilson postgame Interview….Fun to see one of the best in game play – YES, it is worth it.

Finally, I am not for taking unnecessary or foolish risks, stay adventurous – yes, but nothing foolish and heading to the game was no different than shopping at Publix. I had some close encounters physically with fans (shoppers) but never for too long and I kept on my mask on in those times.  Sure, I missed some aspects of the game experience, but also appreciated others – no lines, no traffic, and space. Plus getting out, cheering for your team can provide some of the fun we crave in these unique times.

So, if you are a fan of a team, it is worth the effort to attend a game. It’s not the same, it’s certainly not better, but it is certainly a good time and an adventure in 2020.

Stay adventurous and stay safe,

Go Hawks!





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