Danny Karnik/Associated Press
The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be open to fans in a limited capacity starting with the team’s Week 5 game against the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 11.
MLS club Atlanta United will also host fans for home games at the stadium following that date.
Steve Cannon, the CEO of AMB Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement:
“We are thrilled to invite fans of both the Falcons and Atlanta United back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Having fans watch from alternative locations was a difficult, but important decision. It’s been challenging for both teams to play without fans, but their well-being as well as the safety of our associates and fans was paramount.”
The team had announced in August it would play games without fans through at least September.
The team cited the decline in COVID-19 cases in Georgia as one factor in changing the policy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia is averaging about 1,700 new cases per day, down from the peak of over 3,700 per day in late July.
After playing Week 1 in an empty stadium—a 38-25 loss to the Seattle Seahawks—the Falcons will host about 500 people Sunday against the Chicago Bears, consisting of friends, family and associates. This will help the staff prepare for the return of fans to the stands.
The NFL has allowed each team to make its own determination about fans, and many teams have gone without spectators for at least the first month and potentially beyond.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys were among the teams that allowed up to 25 percent capacity to start the season.
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