JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Jaguars are back! This Sunday afternoon, the Jags are hosting the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field in the first game of the season. This year, things look different because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
TIAA Bank Field is allowing just 25% capacity, but Sarah Mathis, the Director of Fan Experience, said the team and staff couldn’t be more thrilled.
“We’re beyond excited,” Mathis said. “On Sunday, we’re going to be the only NFL team that has fans in the stands.”
Mathis said preparations have been based on providing a fun and safe game day.
This means fans will need to be aware of the many adjustments that have been made for their protection. These changes begin with entry procedures. New magnetometers with new technology have been added. This will allow fans to walk through carrying their clear bag and leave their cell phone and keys in their pockets.
After security screening, you’ll need to self-scan your mobile ticket. Fans can also download the Jaguars Mobile App to make cashless purchases once inside.
Pod seating will be in effect to allow for fans to stay as socially distanced as possible. The Jaguars website says those in your pod should be family or close friends. While there is no physical distancing with the people in your pod, these are the only people you can come into close contact with.
Fans will have to wear their masks at all times, except when eating or drinking.
“We are asking that you’re only eating or drinking if you’re in your seat,” Mathis said. “We don’t want people walking around the concourse, putting their mask up, taking a drink and stuff.”
More than 700 hand sanitizer stations are in place throughout TIAA Bank Field.
Mathis says it is also now a smoke-free facility, meaning tobacco and vape products are prohibited inside.
“Our number one goal is making sure everyone stays safe so that we can continue having football games here in Jacksonville,” Mathis said. “And we can have our fans here cheering on our team.”
There are also changes with parking. Cars will be parked in every other spot to allow for physical distancing. Tailgating is highly discouraged this year.
Infection disease experts said there’s been slight increases across the Jacksonville metro area after schools reopened and the Labor Day weekend. They say fans on Sunday need to take extra precautions.
“I think a lot of people want to return to normalcy, right," said Chad Neilsen, director of accreditation and infection prevention at UF Health Jax. “College is in session, football starts this weekend in the NFL. So there’s this idea, ‘Let’s get out. Fall is here. Let’s enjoy everything.’ But there is still a pandemic going on, and we’re still having positive cases here in the Jacksonville area every day.”
You should NOT come to the stadium if you:
- Have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have reason to believe you have COVID-19
- Have reasonable to believe that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have been in close contact (i.e., within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- Have taken any medication to reduce a fever within the last 2 days
- Are currently experiencing, or have experienced in the last 14 days, COVID-19 symptoms, including a cough, fever, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, unexplained headache, body aches or pains, diarrhea, or other symptoms of illness, or have otherwise felt unwell in the last 24 hours
- Have traveled internationally in the last 14 days, or have had close contact with someone who has
- Have COVID-19, are experiencing or have within the last 48 hours experienced symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, or know you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.
For a closer look at the rules, click here.