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Superdome provides glimpse of what football season could look like during COVID-19

The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. | Source: AP Photo / Gerald Herbert
The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011. | Source: AP Photo / Gerald Herbert(KALB)
Published: May. 28, 2020 at 5:20 PM CDT
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New Orleans Saints games may have a different feel this season. Social distancing guidelines put a big cap on the number of fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome if they are let in at all.

There is still no official word on if the NFL will have fans in the stands should football resume this year. But that has not stopped Superdome officials from preparing for the possibility of limited fans in the stands.

SMG Vice President Doug Thornton revealed new details on Thursday about what a socially distant experience might look like.

SMG manages the Superdome. He acknowledged it will not feel the same as any other season when the Saints played in the Superdome, but SMG believes they can effectively manage with the six-foot guidelines.

They would operate under the Phase 2 guidelines from the White House. However, actual attendance at the Superdome for Saints games would be very low. So low in fact, that Thornton confirmed both he and the Saints are looking at creative ways to enhance capacity.

“The Saints have been particularly good at using their business models to help us create a seating manifest that allows us to adhere to the six-foot distancing rule but also increase the capacity,” Thornton said. “If we just took the six-foot rule and applied it on its face without any sort of creativity you would bring your capacity to 17.5 percent, that would be about 13,000 fans in stands.”

“That's not acceptable. We tried to get it to a higher level if we could. So we're exploring creating ways whether we seat people in pods of four, six, or eight,” he said.

SMG is calling it the Associated Guest Model.

The Superdome has a capacity of over 74,000. Thornton said they hope to get guidance out to the teams sometime in June.

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