PHOENIX — A small number of fans will be allowed to cheer on the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday as they face off against the Detroit Lions at home, the team said Tuesday night.
Just 750 people have been permitted back inside State Farm Stadium, and the group will be comprised of family and close friends of players, coaches and staff who will be socially distanced, according to the team.
That figure is a pittance compared to the stadium’s 63,400-person capacity, but it’s the most that Arizona’s health department is allowing in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State and Maricopa County health officials will also be testing "the implementation of health and safety protocols" for future, possibly larger, gatherings in the future.
"This can be an important next step for fans safely returning to in-person viewing," Health Director Dr. Cara Christ told the team.
The Cardinals stand 2-0 in a brutal NFC West division with high hopes after a blockbuster trade for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and the continued development of signal-caller Kyler Murray, 2019’s top draft pick.
After Sunday, the team will be on the road until hosting the Seattle Seahawks on October 25. If Arizona reaches ADHS’ "minimal" category for COVID-19 spread before then, more fans will likely be allowed in.
NFL teams based in coronavirus hotspots have been essentially vacant as the U.S. tops 200,000 virus-related deaths, the most of any nation in the world.
The league has also cracked down on lax mask use among teams. Three NFL head coaches and their teams were slapped with steep fines for failing to wear a face-covering while on the sidelines.
Kickoff against the Lions (0-2) is at 1:25 p.m.