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No full house: ESPN reports Super Bowl crowd capped at 20%

Gov. Ron DeSantis won’t get his wish.

Despite Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ wish for a full-capacity Super Bowl game in Tampa next year, ESPN sources say the National Football League plans to limit capacity at the championship game to 20%.

Last month, the Governor removed all state-level social distancing restrictions as the state hopes to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. During that press conference, he told reporters he wanted the game played with a stadium full of fans come February 2021.

“We expect to do a full Super Bowl,” DeSantis said. “We want to show we’re going to be able to do that.”

The league has left decisions regarding fans in stands to individual teams and their local governments throughout the regular season. But the league’s current plan, which according to ESPN includes a mask requirement and pods of fans split six feet apart, runs against that.

Half of the league’s teams have had paid attendance for at least one game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have hosted an average of 10,961 fans at two home games.

During the Super Bowl, Raymond James Stadium could potentially have housed nearly 75,000 fans.

When the Miami Dolphins was one of the first teams in August to announce limited-capacity games, DeSantis came out in support of their decision.

“I very much support the Bucs having fans. I think what the Dolphins did to start off, I think was really great,” DeSantis said, adding that the Jacksonville Jaguars were also allowing fans.

But while the Governor hoped for a full stadium on Feb. 7, he acknowledged the complexities of business liabilities. Without congressional action to protect businesses from lawsuits relating to COVID-19 infections, DeSantis has said he wants the Florida Legislature to adopt its own legislation.

“I know there’s some issues about insurance and some other things, and I respect that,” he said. “Maybe we’ll be able to address that after the election.”

The Governor contends that “outdoor transmission has just not been a major factor” in the spread of the contagious disease.

As of Wednesday morning, 790,426 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Florida, including 47,596 in Hillsborough County and 27,803 in Tampa alone.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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