The Houston Texans are working towards opening up home games to a limited number of fans for their October 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings.
In preparing for the re-opening of NRG Stadium, the club has already made a number of changed in order to keep fans safe and ensure social distancing guidelines are met from installing 500 sanitizing stations, mobile ticketing and touchless, cashless transactions for Gameday concessions and purchases.
On Thursday, Texans president Jamey Rootes outlined what a 2020 regular season game following city, county and NFL guidelines might look like.
"In terms of the capacity, we've had to go from 71,500 to 15,000 as kind of the ceiling for us because that's all we can do and still be able to maintain social distancing," Rootes said. "They're social distanced not from individuals, but in pods – two, four, six. Groups of tickets that they're together and then in all directions there's six feet away from them, so that as they're at the game, they're together in their pod, but they're socially distanced from everyone else."
As long as community trends don't take a turn for the worse, Houston hopes to be hosting the remainder of their 2020 home games. The Gameday experience may look different, but Rootes and the Texans have been working towards maintaining the same atmosphere for the safest and most enjoyable fan experience.
Despite fans being limited to just 15,000, the Texans will staff each home game heavily and require Gameday staff to arrive at staggered times to maintain social distancing.
"We will have a very significant staffing level, probably comparable to what you'd see for a sell-out environment just because we want to make sure this goes right," Rootes said. "We know it's not just about a football game. This has got to go well for our community to feel comfortable that we can get back to some sense of normalcy. We do feel an incredible responsibility to get it right."
Houston will host its home opener on Sunday without fans at NRG Stadium. Kickoff against the Ravens is set for 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
The Houston Texans made major changes to their team facilities this offseason in keeping with the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), state, local, NFL and NFLPA guidelines on operating during COVID-19.