Will Cleveland Browns fans be allowed in FirstEnergy Stadium?

Noble Horvath

The plan is awaiting approval to determine if fans will be permitted inside FirstEnergy Stadium. CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have announced their lengthy plan for the 2020 football season at FirstEnergy Stadium, which features numerous safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s plan includes “a number of […]

The plan is awaiting approval to determine if fans will be permitted inside FirstEnergy Stadium.

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns have announced their lengthy plan for the 2020 football season at FirstEnergy Stadium, which features numerous safety protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team’s plan includes “a number of significant changes to gameday operations, including the requirement of facial coverings, a quadrant system that separates fans into specific zones with a dedicated gate based on their seating location, recommended time windows for entry, pre-game health screenings and ticket distribution in ‘pods of known fans’ for the reduced capacity of fans that will be at the stadium if approved.”

The team said overall capacity will be significantly limited this season to comply with government and NFL requirements.

“The overarching goal of the Responsible Restart Plan is to enable a limited capacity of fans to return to FirstEnergy Stadium while also prioritizing the health and safety of everyone, including players, coaches, fans, gameday staff and others involved in the gameday experience,” Browns officials said in a press release Wednesday morning.


Browns officials said their plan has been presented to city, state and health officials. They are now awaiting a final decision to determine if fans will be permitted inside the stadium for the Sept. 17 home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The plan involves the following seven safety principals:

  • Physical separation of at least six feet of social distancing
  • Requirement of masks or other face coverings [TT1] for all individuals (age 10+)
  • Health screening, including via a Fan Health Promise that requires pre-event self-health screenings for all fans, and on-site temperature checks and health questionnaires for all staff
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols throughout the venue
  • Comprehensive hygiene protocols for all fans and staff
  • Extensive training, signage and communication
  • Accountability, flexibility and compliance protocols to provide oversight and adapt to evolving circumstances


“The ‘FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan’ is the result of a tremendous amount of time and resources that our entire team has spent over the past four months to develop a comprehensive stadium plan that prioritizes health and safety while allowing a reduced capacity of fans to return to our stadium for Browns games this fall,” said Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer Dave Jenkins. “Our plan is founded upon the guidance and recommendations of city and state officials, the CDC, local and state health departments, University Hospitals’ medical experts, industry-leading venue consultants and the NFL, with the goal of creating as safe an environment as possible for our players, coaches, staff and fans. We are confident in this plan and our ability to execute these best practices and protocols at FirstEnergy Stadium while remaining flexible and making adjustments as necessary to respond to the ever-evolving circumstances surrounding COVID-19.”


The Browns have also previously offered season-ticket holders the ability to opt out for the 2020 season. But for those who didn’t opt out, here’s how the ticketing process will work this year:

If fans are approved for games this season, eligible season-ticket members will have access to tickets on a rolling basis in ‘waves’ based on tenure and Private Seat License status, and will be assigned a designated window of time during which tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Tickets will be available in “pods of known fans,” which are considered to be trusted, self-selected groups ranging from 1-10 people (final numbers subject to government approval), who will be able to sit next to each other in their pod. No pods will be within six feet of each other.

FirstEnergy Stadium will be divided into four separate color quadrants to minimize movement within the venue and contact with other individuals. Fans will be assigned a specific zone and entrance gate, based on the location of their tickets, as well as a recommended entrance window for when they should plan to arrive. They will be required to agree to a “Fan Health Promise”, including a pre-game self-health screening and self temperature check. The same will be required for all Browns staff members and vendors on-site at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Here’s an in-depth outline from the Browns regarding their 2020 plan:

TICKETING

Each ticket will be assigned a specific gate and recommended entrance time, based on the location of the seat and applicable zone. The designated gate and entrance window will be displayed on each fan’s mobile ticket.

Tickets will be available only in “pods of known fans,” trusted, self-selected groups ranging from 1-10 people (final numbers subject to government approval), who will be able to sit next to each other in their pod. These pods should consist of family members and/or other individuals who are closely familiar with each other, including each person’s daily habits to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.

Each ticket will be assigned to a specific seat, and seating will be assigned so that no pods are within six feet of one another. Fans will be required to remain in their designated seats to maintain pod integrity and ensure separation from other groups, unless headed to the concourse to purchase concessions or team merchandise or use the restroom.

Seats that are unavailable based on the manifest will be physically blocked off to ensure compliance with distancing requirements.

All Browns tickets will be mobile again in 2020, for both fan convenience and health and safety (minimizing contact) reasons.

Specific information regarding how to acquire tickets (including the package of potential games that may be offered) will be provided soon to Season Ticket Members (STMs) who have not opted out of the 2020 season. If fans are approved for games this season, eligible STMs will have access to tickets on a rolling basis in “waves” based on tenure and PSL status, and will be assigned a designated window of time during which tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis. We anticipate that all STMs who have not opted out will have access to a reduced number of games this season, pending appropriate approvals.

If you are interested in purchasing tickets to 2020 games, please monitor your email closely as we will be sharing more information on this process soon.

Please note that while we have made significant progress towards having a limited number of fans at the stadium this year, we remain unable to guarantee that any fan will receive tickets to a specific number of games or opponent(s) or for particular seat locations for the 2020 season.

All STMs continue to have the opportunity to opt out of the 2020 season and receive a credit for future games or a refund without any negative impact on STM status (and, if applicable, PSL status) (more info and link available at end of email and/or also provide here)

PRE-GAMEDAY

Prior to the start of the season, the NFL and the Browns will make “Know Before You Go” resources available online and via direct email that outline health and safety best practices and fan protocols for responsibly attending the game.

We will continue to regularly communicate with season ticket members and all individuals who have obtained tickets to games throughout the year.

Through the “Fan Health Promise” pregame communications, fans must self-conduct a COVID-19 Prescreening, including a temperature check and questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposure. Fans will be required to agree to the “Fan Health Promise” prior to receiving access to their tickets.

All Browns staff members and vendors at FirstEnergy Stadium will also be required to complete mandatory health screenings, as well as temperature checks upon arrival at the stadium.

For the health and safety of all, any fan experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who may have been exposed to the virus should stay home.

ADDITIONAL GAMEDAY NOTES

Prominent signage reminding fans to wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing, as well as signage reinforcing capacity limitations, socially-distanced lines and more will be prominently placed in and around the stadium.

At stadium entrances, security check-points will be at least six feet apart and have markings indicating where fans should stand to maintain distance while waiting. New wayfinding signs will direct traffic flow and guest services members will direct fans to their seats to minimize unnecessary contact with others. Lines for escalators and elevators will be socially-distanced, and elevators will have a maximum capacity relative to their size.

We have implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols for all gameday areas and equipment throughout the venue and comprehensive hygiene practices will be required of staff and strongly recommended to fans.

As described above, all fans will exit the building through the gate they entered, based on their assigned zone. Fans will be reminded frequently to practice social distancing and adhere to the face mask or covering requirement before, during and after the game, including egress.

Per NFL policies, the team has extensive protocols in place for fans who may be experiencing symptoms while at the stadium, including two dedicated isolation areas – one for fans and one for staff – and corresponding health and safety exit procedures.

During the 2020 season, FirstEnergy Stadium will transition to a cashless venue for fan convenience and health and safety purposes. Cash-to-card kiosks will be made available for fans who prefer not to use their own credit card or who typically rely on cash as their preferred payment method.

The team is currently exploring enhancements to the Browns Mobile App to potentially allow fans to pre-order concessions on their phones while in their seats. Additionally, individually-wrapped/sealed food and beverage offerings, as well as single-serve condiment packages, will be available to fans. Aramark is also implementing a number of other food service health and safety best practices, including robust cleaning protocols, the installation of Plexiglas dividers and line-management procedures to accommodate social distancing.

New in 2020, most Browns parking passes will be distributed via mobile devices to increase convenience while also eliminating the need to exchange physical materials with staff when entering the lots.

Tailgating will be prohibited throughout downtown by the City of Cleveland.

The City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office will have an on-site gameday presence to help enforce and address any health and safety violations.

We hope you find this information helpful as we prepare for the 2020 season. We cannot stress enough that two of the most critical elements for having fans at Browns games this season, and far more importantly, for the overall well-being of our community, are 1) for everyone to continue to do their part by adopting all COVID-19 best practices and protocols in their daily routines; and 2) continuing to be flexible and willing to adapt to ever-evolving circumstances and prioritizing our collective health and safety over personal conveniences and habits. Thank you for doing your part. We look forward to an exciting 2020 football season.

All STMs continue to have the opportunity to opt out of the 2020 season and receive a credit for future games or a refund without any negative impact on STM status (and, if applicable, PSL status).

To opt out for the 2020 season click here.

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