COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Saturday that the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have been granted a variance to the state sport order for the number of spectators allowed at two of their respective upcoming home games.
According to DeWine, the variance will allow up to a total 6,000 spectators at the upcoming two home games for each team. No more than 1,500 spectators will be allowed on each of the four sides of the stadium—the two sidelines and two end zones.
Additionally, all fans must use the designated entrance for their ticket. Masks will be required in accordance with state regulations, DeWine said.
The following games are listed under the variance:
- Sept. 17: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
- Sept. 27: Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns
- Oct. 4: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
- Oct. 25: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
"This year will certainly be different, but both the Browns and the Bengals have worked exceedingly hard and have made extensive preparations to welcome a limited number of fans to their stadiums safely," said DeWine. "These very thorough plans and safety precautions warrant a two-game trial to try and accommodate fans, at reduced capacities with social distancing and masks."
The Browns will be able to host around 10% of FirstEnergy Stadium's capacity for the first two games and until further notice, pending the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and DeWine's guidance.
A spokesperson for the Browns issued the following statement regarding the governor's decision to allow fans on the trial basis:
We greatly appreciate Governor DeWine and Mayor Jackson, along with the state and city health departments, for their support of our FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan. We are grateful for their collaboration and contributions throughout our process, as well as those of medical experts from the CDC, University Hospitals and Duke University, industry-leading venue consultants and the NFL, to craft a plan that will help create as safe as an environment as possible at the stadium for our players, coaches, gameday staff and fans.
We are thrilled, particularly on behalf of our fans, that we received approval to welcome back a limited capacity of approximately 10 percent at FirstEnergy Stadium for our first two home games in September. We will continue to closely monitor the ever-evolving circumstances related to COVID-19 and remain in frequent dialogue with each of these groups so we can properly adapt as needed with the hopes of potentially allowing more fans to attend games at a later date, if circumstances allow.
For the past four months, our organization has done extensive work in consultation with all of the stakeholders listed above to incorporate best practices and robust protocols that prioritize health and safety and allow for a reduced number of fans in the stadium for Browns games this fall. We are confident in our plan and our ability to execute it. We also fully recognize that education, collective buy-in and a commitment to shared responsibility are extremely important to the plan’s success, along with diligent cooperation and compliance from our fans.
The Browns have worked diligently to prepare for the possibility of fans this season, creating the FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan that follows seven principles in order to keep fans, players, coaches, staff and other employees safe. The principles of the plan include:
- Physical separation of at least six feet of social distancing
- Requirement of masks or other face coverings for all individuals (age 10+)
- Health screening, including via a Fan Health Promise that requires pre-event self-health screenings for all fans, and on-site temperature checks and health questionnaires for all staff
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols throughout the venue
- Comprehensive hygiene protocols for all fans and staff
- Extensive training, signage and communication
- Accountability, flexibility and compliance protocols to provide oversight and adapt to evolving circumstances
Browns season ticket holders were notified Saturday of the decision to allow fans at games and the steps to acquire tickets this season.
In the letter to season ticket holders, the Browns announced their initial ticketing plan which is designed to allow season ticket members to attend as many home games as possible while complying with state mandates and guidance.
To allow for social distancing, "pods" have been assigned out throughout the seating to separate different groups of season ticket holders from each other.
The Browns ticketing plan is as follows:
- Tickets will be distributed on a single-game basis in the order in which they are scheduled to occur.
- STMs will be placed into STM Groups based on tenure and PSL status. Each STM Group will have the opportunity to select available tickets on a game-by-game basis, beginning with the longest tenured STMs and PSL holders.
- Tickets to the first game and subsequent games will be made available in waves to STM Groups, until quantities are no longer available.
- When presented the opportunity to purchase tickets to an individual game, STMs will select the same number of tickets as on their account, regardless of how that allotment is divided into pods of known fans.
- If someone chooses not to select tickets to their first designated game, they will not have the opportunity to acquire tickets to another game until all subsequent STM Groups have had the chance to do so. As such, there is no guarantee a STM will have access to tickets to a future game so it is recommended that STMs purchase tickets when they have the first opportunity to do so if they would like to attend any 2020 Browns home games.
- When a STM Group is queued to acquire tickets for an upcoming home game, each STM in the group will receive an email from the Browns with an assigned timeslot. When assigned a seat selection time, tickets will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis to the relevant STM Group within the defined window.
- Due to limited inventory in order to create pods of known fans that accommodate social distancing, many locations will be unavailable, including the first eight rows of the stadium per NFL-NFLPA policies.
- Fans will be able to select preferred locations (as they remain available) at the 2020 season ticket member price of each seat. Based on a STM’s selection, the applicable cost will be reduced from their account and/or fans will be prompted to provide credit card information to cover any remaining balance.
As announced previously, Browns season ticket holders have the ability to opt out of their tickets for the 2020 season without losing their status or seat locations for the 2021 season.
To learn more about ticketing, click here.