Mike McCarthy: Cowboys home opener vs. Falcons to host fans at 25 percent capacity

Jason Owens
·3 min read

Jerry Jones has discussed plans to host fans at Cowboys home games this season.

But the team has remained mum on exactly how many fans will be allowed inside AT&T Stadium amid an ongoing airborne pandemic.

Thanks to Mike McCarthy, now we know. Roughly.

‘We’ll have some live energy in the building’

The Cowboys head coach told reporters on Wednesday that the stadium will be at 25 percent capacity for Sunday’s home opener against the Atlanta Falcons. He divulged the number while contrasting it to the atmosphere of playing in front of empty SoFi Stadium stands in a Week 1 road loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

“I think it’ll be a lot different in AT&T Sunday because obviously we’ll have 25 percent capacity,” McCarthy said, per USA Today’s Jori Epstein. “So we’ll have some live energy in the building. I’m pretty confident the music and the game operations will be a little different than it was this past week.”

Based on the stadium’s standard 80,000-seat capacity, that adds up to 20,000 fans in the stands. The stadium can expand to hold 100,000-plus attendees for big-ticket events. That number presumably isn’t in play here.

Jerry Jones wants to expand attendance

Jones teased a pod system in August that will allow friends and family to purchase tickets together and sit in groups separated from other fans. He declined then to speculate on a number and did so again on Tuesday during a radio appearance beyond promising “strong attendance” that would be announced at the game.

“Safety and frankly perception has something to do with this weekend,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan. “We want to not only be safe — and we will be, make no mistake about that.”

He then said that the team would improvise on capacity throughout the season as the team learns more about COVID-19 safety measures.

“We’ll expand as we go, hopefully,” Jones said. ... “We’re gonna option quarterback it all the way through.”

Fans gather outside AT&T Stadium. (Getty Images)
Jerry Jones plans to play it by ear on fan attendance throughout the season. (Getty Images)

NFL’s fan policy — or lack thereof

Teams across the league have varying fan policies with some banning fans altogether and others allowing them in limited capacities. The Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars hosted fans for Week 1 home games.

The Chiefs capped their attendance at 22 percent capacity for their win over the Houston Texans, while the Jaguars capped theirs at 25 percent for their win over the Indianapolis Colts.

COVID-19 concerns

The decisions about hosting fans arrive as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to maintain its grip on the United States.

As of Wednesday, the United States claimed 6.6 million of the world’s 29.6 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 196,000 of the 937,000 global deaths attributed to the pandemic.

Some experts predict an increase in the death rate amid seasonal change and decreased public vigilance to thwart the spread of the pandemic.

The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation forecasts an additional 225,000 deaths in the United States by Jan. 1 and a daily death rate of nearly 3,000 in December.

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