JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the Jaguars take the field Sunday afternoon in their home opener against the defending AFC West champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, it's forecast to be a hot one for fans at TIAA Bank Field.
Fans are encouraged to come to the game hydrated and to drink extra water while tailgating. During some of the games in September, dozens of people reported heat-related illnesses.
On Sunday, fans will be packed into an outdoor stadium with a high heat index forecast. It could mean a repeat of what we've seen in recent home openers.
In 2016, there was a feels-like temperature of 101 degrees during kickoff when the Jaguars took on the Green Bay Packers. The on-field temperature reached 113 degrees.
On that day, the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department had 123 medical calls and took 35 people to the hospital, mostly for heat stress. Mitchell Swanson, a Jaguars fan, was at the game.
"I remember distinctly there were fans in the breezeways," Swanson said. "It was so hot. They weren't hydrated enough."
"They need to mix their favorite beverage and then drink a water and then a favorite beverage and a water," said Keith Power, the interim fire chief with the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department. "Carbonated beverages and alcohol act as diuretics to the system, which causes you to dehydrate even faster."
Sarah Mathis, the Jaguars' director of fan experience, said the team has partnered with JTA to have two air conditioned buses parked at the bottom of ramps 2 and 4 for fans to escape the sun.
"Also in those areas, there's going to be misting fans. We're going to have water stations there and then our entire south entrance, our Daily's Place South End Market area, is all shaded, so that's another great place for fans if they're getting a little overheated," Mathis said.
The stadium is allowing personal misting fans into the stadium as long as they're empty. Complimentary cups will be given out at all guest services booths.
A spokesperson for JFRD said they have the normal number of personnel at the game, but they do have a het staffing plan they'll put in place if they notice a lot of heat-related calls. Extra transport units will be on standby.
HELPFUL LINK: Jaguars digital ticket guide & FAQs
A reminder, the stadium has a clear bag policy and all tickets are digital. Screenshots of tickets are no longer accepted, so have your ticket pulled up or added to your phone's wallet before you head through security.