Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced last month that there would be no fans permitted at Nissan Stadium through at least September.
However, Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill believes the team can create a safe environment for its fans, should the team be allowed to welcome them back starting in October.
"We remain hopeful and ready to host fans if we are to get that opportunity,” Nihill said. “That's really a question for the Mayor's office. We respect the Mayor's decision and trust the Mayor's decision. As he said last week, this is a national response, not a Nashville response in terms of being slow about reopening facilities like our venue.
“That said, I don't want to put words in his mouth, or in the mouth of his health department, but I think that they would agree with us that we believe the Titans’ gameday experience that we have put forth in our safe stadium plan is first class, and it would allow us to safely host fans if we were to be given the opportunity. I genuinely believe that going to a Titans game this fall may be one of the safest things that could happen in a vacuum of what would happen within our four walls.”
Tennessee has three home games next month — Oct. 4 against Pittsburgh, Oct. 11 against Buffalo and Oct. 18 against Houston. Team officials began meeting weekly back in March to work on plans for limited seating. Nihill and the Titans have been in regular communication with Cooper’s office regarding Nissan Stadium attendance.
“I do think there’s reason for hope for October, but it’s very preliminary to be thinking about whether or not we’ll ultimately get that green light,” Nihill said. “There’s some operational needs for October 4th that, if we don’t know probably in the next seven to 10 days, would just make it difficult to deliver tickets and get people into the stadium. Hopefully there’s word one way or another over the next four, five or six days.”
While Vanderbilt University isn’t under the same mandate as the Titans or Nashville SC in terms of fan restrictions, Mayor Cooper encouraged the Commodores to follow the lead of the two professional teams.
In Knoxville, the University of Tennessee plans to host around 25,000 fans at Neyland Stadium for the upcoming season. That number is about 10,000 more fans than the Titans plan to allow if the team gets the go-ahead to host fans.
“In terms of percentages, we have some percentages in mind,” Nihill continued. “The key is it doesn’t start with a percentage; it starts with what is safe. What is safe in our mind, in an outdoor stadium with everyone wearing face masks, is this restaurant table, pod-based seating of one to six fans that are socially distanced from every other pod of fans…It works out to about 21-22 percent if we were to activate the entire stadium with that capacity.”
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