Gov. Ron DeSantis urged NFL ownership in Tampa Bay to “go forward” with fans in the stands as soon as possible this year.
“I told the Bucs that whatever support you need from me you will have it to be able to do it. Ultimately they have to make their own decision,” he added.
The comments, made after a roundtable on the reopening of bars Thursday in St. Petersburg, saw the Governor wax poetic on how he “really wants to be able to show that Tampa is going to be a great place to host a Super Bowl.”
“Showing that this community is ready to host a Super Bowl, having fans there is a good first step,” DeSantis said.
“If the Bucs had fans,” DeSantis said, “I’d try to go to the first home game. I’m not going to go if fans are not allowed.”
“Fans here want to be at the games,” the Governor said. “They sold out quickly. They’ve got a lot of great players. They just got Leonard Fournette, I think, right, and then you have Gronk. This is really exciting and it’s unfortunate that the fans can’t be there for it.
The Governor noted that his team had worked with the Miami Dolphins, which had a “great plan” for reopening, including seats for 13,000 fans in their open air stadium and a mask requirement.
The third NFL team in the state, the Jacksonville Jaguars, has had “contact” with the Governor’s Office, DeSantis said, and has similar requirements, with 25% capacity allowed in their stadium.
DeSantis noted that while he has “given locals say” on how to handle facility openings, “the one thing I preempted was professional sports.”
“If people want to operate, they can come to me, and we’ll let them operate,” DeSantis vowed.
“You can do it,” the Governor said about seating people in stadiums. “We just had the Daytona Speedway, they had 30,000 people, now that seats a lot, so they are spread out with 30,000, but it works.”