DENVER — Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Broncos' season opener against the Tennessee Titans at Empower Field at Mile High will be played without fans in attendance, the team announced Friday.
The decision, which was made together with the state, maintains the importance of public health as a top priority.
"Working in collaboration with the state and with safety as the top priority, we have made the decision that our home opener against Tennessee at Empower Field at Mile High will be played without fans," the team said in a statement. "We are grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm that Broncos fans have shown this year—despite such challenging circumstances—but this is the responsible thing to do right now for our community.
"Our organization remains hopeful that we can host a limited number of fans on a gradually increasing basis beginning early this season. Taking a careful, measured approach with attendance will allow us to evaluate and adjust all COVID-19 safety enhancements before moving forward.
"We will continue to work closely and in collaboration with the state to determine the next steps, ensuring we are doing our part to protect the health of our fans and community."
If progress is made in coming weeks, the team hopes to eventually increase the ability for fans to attend games over the course of the season, perhaps beginning as early as the Broncos' Week 3 game against Tampa Bay.
Regardless, the emphasis has been on "proceeding with caution," as President and CEO Joe Ellis said during his July 28 press conference.
In preparation for whenever that may be, the Broncos and Stadium Management Company worked together to install several enhanced safety measures at the stadium since announcing the plan in June.
At a virtual meeting with SMC's Board of Directors on June 17, General Manager Jay Roberts outlined several measures that would prepare the stadium for fans.
That plan included the addition of 500 hand sanitizer stations throughout the stadium, bipolar ionization technology in the HVAC system, UV-C lights under escalators and the installation of completely touchless bathroom technology for toilets, sinks and paper towel dispensers.
Many teams have also announced similar stadium restrictions due to COVID-19 precautions. Tennessee, Denver's opponent for their opener, will also not be allowed to have fans at their home opener in Week 2. The Patriots announced Tuesday that fans will not be permitted in Gillette Stadium through September, if not longer. The Falcons made a similar announcement on Monday.
The Raiders and the Washington Football Team have each announced that their respective stadiums will be closed to fans for the entire 2020 season.