The owners of NFL East rivals Dallas and Washington are taking different approaches when it comes to opening the stadium gates this season.
On Wednesday, Jerry Jones told reporters that his Cowboys will have fans in the stands at ATT Stadium in 2020. His remarks came after the Washington Football Team released a statement indicating their home games will be played with empty seats at FedExField unless the threat of COVID-19 spread diminishes.
Jones would not specify how many tickets the Cowboys will sell at the stadium, which has a seating capacity of 80,000 that can be expanded for special events. He said the team will follow regulations and protocols set by authorities in Texas and the NFL.
"It's easy for me to justify for the long-term of interest in football and the long-term thing that competitive sports bring to the table and what it can bring to the country," Jones said. "It's worth it to make the effort for us to have a complete season and I want to do it in front of our fans."
In its own statement, the Washington Football Team said that although it had developed a heath and safety plan in conjunction with state and local officials, 82,000-seat FedExField in Landover, Md., will remain without fans "due to the rapidly changing dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic."
The decision could be reviewed if the risks of the virus' spread decrease later in the season, the team said.
"We are fortunate to host the best fans in the NFL year after year, but the wellbeing of those supporters, along with that of our players, coaches and each and every member of our gameday staff is simply too important, and the current knowledge of COVID-19 too unpredictable, to welcome our fan base to FedExField to start the season," said Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder.
"We were the first team in the league to recall our scouts and other personnel from the field back in mid-March and have been monitoring this evolving situation ever since. This decision was not an easy one, but after several discussions with federal, state and local officials -- along with input from some of the nation's foremost medical experts, based right here in the nation's capital -- we are confident that it is the right one."
Dallas is scheduled to open its home schedule Sept. 20 against the Atlanta Falcons. Washington plays at home for the first time Sept. 13 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys will meet the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 13 to christen So-Fi Stadium, which the Rams said earlier would have "limited to no capacity" for fans during the 2020 season.
--Field Level Media