Social Distancing Procedures Discussed for Saints Superdome Games
One of the biggest advantages the New Orleans Saints have over their National Football League opponents is the home-field advantage. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is to pro football what Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge is to college football. They're both nasty loud places to be if you happen to be the visiting team.
Now, let's throw in the COVID-19 pandemic, social spacing, CDC guidelines, and state mandates into the picture. All of a sudden the Superdome's capacity of about 74,000 rabid Saints fans could be reduced significantly. In fact, if you simply laid out the stadium seating and applied the basic social distancing guidelines you'd only be able to put about 13,000 fans in the stands.
If you're wondering about capacity percentages that would put the attendance, under those guidelines, at only 17.5%. At least that's the number the management company for the Superdome, ASM Global is projecting. Obviously, that's not quite enough, but if given the choice of 13,000 in the stands or no one in the stands it might just have to do.
ASM Global is currently working with the Saints and government officials to find ways to enhance that capacity number. They're calling it the Associated Guest Model. Some of the options being explored include creating ways to seat pods of four, six, or eight people in such a way as to maximize the space and still maintain the social spacing.
Obviously, there is a lot of time between now and August when the Saints' first preseason home games are scheduled. There will have to be a lot of hard decisions and choices made. Officials with ASM Global and the Saints hope to have a final draft of their COVID-19 strategy out to the league and other NFL teams by sometime in June. Which hopefully will mean football with fans in the stands this fall.