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Behind-the-Scenes of a NFL Game during the Pandemic

The Carolina Panthers will welcome back fans with changes in place to protect them.

Touchdown! On Sunday, October 4, the Carolina Panthers will host a home game with fans in the stands.

It will be the first in-person game played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte since the coronavirus pandemic grinded sporting events to a halt last spring.

“The excitement of the game will be the same, but it’s going to look a little different,” said Eddie Levins, director of security and infection control officer for the Panthers.

For example, the stadium has a capacity of about 74,000. On Sunday, only 7% – 5,200 – will attend.

But the Panthers plan to give those fans the experience they expect.

“When we win, people feel better,” Eddie said. “On the football side, we’re doing everything we can possibly do to make sure we’re putting the best team on the field. We’ve taken the same approach to our health and safety plan to ensure that the game day experience is enjoyable and as safe as possible. We’re excited and prepared to welcome fans back to the stadium.”

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what changes to expect at the game.

Pre-game

The moment fans get their tickets, they must acknowledge the safety protocols in place and their responsibilities as fans, Eddie said.

Entrance lines to the stadium will start in the street to help space people out. Fans will also have their temperature checked before they can enter and be given personal protective equipment, if they need it. That includes the Honeywell Safety Pack that contains a mask, sanitizer and wipes. There also will be sanitizer throughout the building.

Meanwhile, Eddie describes changes to the concourse as a “miniature highway.” Once fans are screened they immediately head to the right and stay in that “lane” as they head to their seats. That could mean they pass their section initially, but there will be a turning point to go back to it.

During the game

Fans will be spaced out in “pods” that will include groups of up to five people who can sit together but distanced from other pods in the stands. Once fans find their seats, if they are not comfortable with the spacing, then there can be opportunities to relocate them.

Even concessions will be different. Not as many concession areas will be open and there will be lines with markers to help encourage distancing. There will also be a lot more grab-and-go offerings, Eddie said. Meanwhile, inside restrooms, some facilities will be closed off to ensure distancing. And all high touchpoints throughout the entire stadium will be cleaned multiple times during the game.

The team must be protected as well. The locker room will be sanitized three times throughout the game to make sure the players are safe, Eddie said. “Any opportunity we can to make sure their environment is as clean as possible throughout the event is being done.”

Post-game

When the score is final, and fans are ready to head home, the “highway” direction will reverse.

Announcements of that change will begin in the third quarter to inform fans of how they will exit the stadium.

People will leave from the closest gate to them.

That will ensure people avoid being face-to-face while inside the building. 

All images courtesy of the Carolina Panthers.