(Berea) - The Cleveland Browns have determined what changes will be made at FirstEnergy Stadium this season, if fans are allowed to attend games.
In a letter to season ticket holders, the Browns have outlined the plan they have presented to the City of Cleveland, and the State of Ohio.
The plan includes separation of the stadium into quadrants. Fans in each quadrant will be able to enter only at their designated gate, and only at a specified time. There will also be ticket distribution for "pods of known fans," groups of up to 10 people, who know each other, and can sit next to each other.
There will be limited, or no seating between the pods of fans.
The Browns say that all season ticket holders will have the right to opt out this season, and not lose their rights to future ticket packages, or to their PSL.
This is the letter sent out by the Browns:
Dear Season Ticket Member,
As we strive to collectively mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community, we strongly encourage you to continue to do your part by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public and frequently washing your hands, as recommended by University Hospitals, the CDC and medical experts across the country. While we have all heard the importance of these steps countless times over the past several months, they remain as pivotal as ever, and everyone must continue to follow these critical coronavirus protocols to help keep each other safe and healthy. This is especially true if we hope to enjoy late summer and fall activities, including the potential to have Browns fans at games this season.
In light of the rapidly approaching season and Dee and Jimmy Haslam’s recent public comments regarding the team’s discussions with local and state government officials, we wanted to share with you our strategies for creating as safe an environment as possible at FirstEnergy Stadium this year.
Throughout the past four months, we have regularly communicated and collaborated with city and state officials; medical experts from the CDC, local health departments, University Hospitals and Duke University; industry-leading venue consultants, and the NFL, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills, to identify and implement extensive protocols at the stadium to help minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 during events at FirstEnergy Stadium. Based on these discussions, we have updated our 2020 gameday protocols and procedures and have crafted a comprehensive “FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan,” which is designed to enable a limited capacity of fans to return to FirstEnergy Stadium while also prioritizing everyone’s health and safety. We recently presented our Responsible Restart Plan to the City of Cleveland, the State of Ohio, and their respective health departments, and are currently awaiting final government approval. In hopeful anticipation of that approval, this email summarizes our Responsible Restart Plan so that everyone can properly prepare for the 2020 season in the event fans are permitted to attend.
The overarching goal of the Responsible Restart Plan is to prioritize the health and safety of everyone in attendance at the stadium, including players, coaches, fans, gameday staff, and everyone involved in the gameday experience. We recognize the fluidity of the current circumstances and will continue to be flexible and adapt as necessary, as we have done throughout the offseason and training camp as players and coaches returned to Berea. While remaining as adaptive as possible, our Responsible Restart Plan’s foundation is the seven guiding principles below:
- Physical separation of at least six feet of social distancing
- Requirement of masks or other face coverings for all individuals(age 10+)
- Health screening, including via a Fan Health Promise that requires pre-event self-health screenings for all fans, and on-site temperature checks and health questionnaires for all staff
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols throughout the venue
- Comprehensive hygiene protocols for all fans and staff
- Extensive training, signage and communication
- Accountability, flexibility and compliance protocols to provide oversight and adapt to evolving circumstances
FirstEnergy Stadium Responsible Restart Plan overview
- Overall capacity will be significantly limited this season to comply with government and NFL requirements. The official stadium capacity of each game will be determined based on final ticket distribution patterns (specifically the size of trusted seating pods, further described below) and the overall ticket manifest.
- FirstEnergy Stadium will be divided into four separate color-coded quadrants to minimize movement within the venue and contact with other individuals. Each area will be identified by entrance gate – University Hospitals Zone (red), Meijer Zone (blue), Fifth Third Bank Zone (green) and Cree Lighting Zone (yellow). Fans and staff will remain in their designated quarter of the stadium for the entirety of the game from ingress to egress. The team has worked to ensure comparable fan accommodations are available within each zone, including concessions, restrooms, retail and other amenities.
- Facial coverings will be required for all fans and staff (age 10+) in all areas, including the seating bowl, except when actively eating or drinking. Staff members will also be required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as appropriate (e.g., gloves for food service staff).
- A significant number of sanitation stations will be installed and readily available to all fans and staff throughout FirstEnergy Stadium.
- Each ticket will be assigned a specific gate and recommended entrance time, based on the location of the seat and applicable zone. The designated gate and entrance window will be displayed on each fan’s mobile ticket.
- Tickets will be available only in “pods of known fans,” trusted, self-selected groups ranging from 1-10 people (final numbers subject to government approval), who will be able to sit next to each other in their pod. These pods should consist of family members and/or other individuals who are closely familiar with each other, including each person’s daily habits to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
- Each ticket will be assigned to a specific seat, and seating will be assigned so that no pods are within six feet of one another. Fans will be required to remain in their designated seats to maintain pod integrity and ensure separation from other groups, unless headed to the concourse to purchase concessions or team merchandise or use the restroom.
- Seats that are unavailable based on the manifest will be physically blocked off to ensure compliance with distancing requirements.
- All Browns tickets will be mobile again in 2020, for both fan convenience and health and safety (minimizing contact) reasons.
- Specific information regarding how to acquire tickets (including the package of potential games that may be offered) will be provided soon to Season Ticket Members (STMs) who have not opted out of the 2020 season. If fans are approved for games this season, eligible STMs will have access to tickets on a rolling basis in “waves” based on tenure and PSL status, and will be assigned a designated window of time during which tickets can be purchased on a first-come, first-serve basis. We anticipate that all STMs who have not opted out will have access to a reduced number of games this season, pending appropriate approvals.
- If you are interested in purchasing tickets to 2020 games, please monitor your email closely as we will be sharing more information on this process soon.
- Please note that while we have made significant progress towards having a limited number of fans at the stadium this year, we remain unable to guarantee that any fan will receive tickets to a specific number of games or opponent(s) or for particular seat locations for the 2020 season.
- All STMs continue to have the opportunity to opt out of the 2020 season and receive a credit for future games or a refund without any negative impact on STM status (and, if applicable, PSL status).
- Prior to the start of the season, the NFL and the Browns will make “Know Before You Go” resources available online and via direct email that outline health and safety best practices and fan protocols for responsibly attending the game.
- We will continue to regularly communicate with season ticket members and all individuals who have obtained tickets to games throughout the year.
- Through the “Fan Health Promise” pregame communications, fans must self-conduct a COVID-19 Prescreening, including a temperature check and questions related to COVID-19 symptoms and potential exposure. Fans will be required to agree to the “Fan Health Promise” prior to receiving access to their tickets.
- All Browns staff members and vendors at FirstEnergy Stadium will also be required to complete mandatory health screenings, as well as temperature checks upon arrival at the stadium.
- For the health and safety of all, any fan experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who may have been exposed to the virus should stay home.
ADDITIONAL GAMEDAY NOTES
- Prominent signage reminding fans to wear masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing, as well as signage reinforcing capacity limitations, socially-distanced lines and more will be prominently placed in and around the stadium.
- At stadium entrances, security check-points will be at least six feet apart and have markings indicating where fans should stand to maintain distance while waiting. New wayfinding signs will direct traffic flow and guest services members will direct fans to their seats to minimize unnecessary contact with others. Lines for escalators and elevators will be socially-distanced, and elevators will have a maximum capacity relative to their size.
- We have implemented enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols for all gameday areas and equipment throughout the venue and comprehensive hygiene practices will be required of staff and strongly recommended to fans.
- As described above, all fans will exit the building through the gate they entered, based on their assigned zone. Fans will be reminded frequently to practice social distancing and adhere to the face mask or covering requirement before, during and after the game, including egress.
- Per NFL policies, the team has extensive protocols in place for fans who may be experiencing symptoms while at the stadium, including two dedicated isolation areas – one for fans and one for staff – and corresponding health and safety exit procedures.
- During the 2020 season, FirstEnergy Stadium will transition to a cashless venue for fan convenience and health and safety purposes. Cash-to-card kiosks will be made available for fans who prefer not to use their own credit card or who typically rely on cash as their preferred payment method.
- The team is currently exploring enhancements to the Browns Mobile App to potentially allow fans to pre-order concessions on their phones while in their seats. Additionally, individually-wrapped/sealed food and beverage offerings, as well as single-serve condiment packages, will be available to fans. Aramark is also implementing a number of other food service health and safety best practices, including robust cleaning protocols, the installation of Plexiglas dividers and line-management procedures to accommodate social distancing.
- New in 2020, most Browns parking passes will be distributed via mobile devices to increase convenience while also eliminating the need to exchange physical materials with staff when entering the lots.
- Tailgating will be prohibited throughout downtown by the City of Cleveland.
- The City of Cleveland Prosecutor’s Office will have an on-site gameday presence to help enforce and address any health and safety violations.
We hope you find this information helpful as we prepare for the 2020 season. We cannot stress enough that two of the most critical elements for having fans at Browns games this season, and far more importantly, for the overall well-being of our community, are 1) for everyone to continue to do their part by adopting all COVID-19 best practices and protocols in their daily routines; and 2) continuing to be flexible and willing to adapt to ever-evolving circumstances and prioritizing our collective health and safety over personal conveniences and habits. Thank you for doing your part. We look forward to an exciting 2020 football season.
To opt out for the 2020 season click here.
Please stay safe, and wear a mask!
(Photo by Ken Robinson, WTAM)
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