TAMPA, Fla. — The Buccaneers are ready to welcome back fans to home games starting Sunday, but the expected crowd for the Oct. 4 game isn't even a quarter of Raymond James Stadium's capacity of more than 65,000 people.
Leaders with the Bucs, the Tampa Sports Authority and the University of South Florida Bulls discussed stadium reopening plans during a virtual news conference on Tuesday.
The biggest changes fans can expect all relate to health and safety amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including mask requirements for all fans and staff, touchless transactions and a no-bag policy.
As big, professional sports-level crowds are a big no-no, capacity at the stadium is limited to just 25 percent and no tailgating of any kind will be allowed before games in the parking lots.
The Bucs' Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford said the Oct. 4 game versus the Los Angeles Chargers is considered a "soft opening" for fans. That game is expected to have fewer than 10,000 fans in the stands.
For future home games, however, Ford said capacity will be at 25 percent with roughly 16,000 people in attendance. That begins with the Oct. 18 game against the Green Bay Packers.
"Our number one priority has been the safety of everyone involved, from the players to the coaches, to our staff and to our fans," Ford said.
Beyond capacity and mask mandates, there are a lot of other important changes fans need to know before heading to a Bucs game.
Bucs Fan Promise
All fans planning to attend a home game are required to complete the "Bucs Fan Promise" survey. It will only be available starting at 12:01 a.m. on game day.
Acceptance of the Entry Terms & COVID-19 Fan Health Promise is required for entry. If you agree to it, you'll get a green check on your phone and by email.
Those without a mobile device can visit one of the five fan tents next to all gates to complete the survey and get a wristband for entry.
More on the Bucs Fan Promise and how to access it here.
Ford said the goal is to maintain a 6-foot clearance between everyone at all times in the stadium. Throughout the stadium and outside, there will be six-foot distancing markers to help guide fans for security screenings, restrooms, shops and concessions.
"Remember, we're in this together so please be respectful of other fans and their space," the reopening guide says.
TSA added more than 775 hand sanitizer stations inside and outside the stadium. Also, all high-touch areas will be cleaned before, during and after each game or event.
Tampa Sports Authority also detailed HVAC and air conditioning upgrades that include installing germicidal lights in the team store, press box, offices, locker rooms, clubs, first aid rooms, elevator lobbies and under escalator handrails.
Proximity to players
The first several rows of seats closest to the field will be closed off to maintain better physical distancing between players and the fans.
Bucs tickets and seats will be distributed in pods for physical distancing between groups of fans. For season ticket holders, that means pods can be up to six people.
The team says pod seating is arranged "with the expectation that fans will be attending games with family members they have been sheltering with and/or with trusted acquaintances."
Outside of those pods, seats will be blocked off and kept empty to separate the pods of fans.
"These ticketing pods will be arranged six feet apart from the next seating pod (both in the same row and in front/behind the pod)," the Bucs' guide says.
Touchless ticketing and fixtures
Ford said touchless ticketing isn't a change for Bucs fans, as the team had already been using it. But, other fixtures that are now touchless include sinks, paper towel dispensers, urinals and toilets.
If you're interested in getting your hands on a ticket to a Bucs game, there is some information you need to know. For that, click here.
All concessions during games will be cashless, and there will also be mobile ordering available through the Bucs app. The stadium also set up "reverse ATMs" to turn cash into cards to be used for food and in shops.
You can also watch the full reopening plans news conference below:
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