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Cowboys plan to have fans for games despite virus

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he expects spectators for the team's NFL home games this season despite COVID-19 issues - TOM PENNINGTON / ©AFP
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says he expects spectators for the team's NFL home games this season despite COVID-19 issues - TOM PENNINGTON / ©AFP

(AFP)

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says his team expects to welcome fans to games this season despite the coronavirus pandemic and health rules allowing only 50 percent capacity for sports events.

“I’m confident that we have a very educated situation and that our fans can come and have a safe experience at our stadium, along with, of course, our players having the safety they’re required on the football field,” Jones said Wednesday.

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The massive AT&T Stadium, a $1.3 billion venue with 80,000 seats and space for 105,000 with standing room, has suites and other areas for groups plus plenty of room for social distancing, Jones said.

“I don’t have an expectation,” Jones said when asked about a specific number of spectators.

“You’re dealing with a little bit of a moving target and I’m not trying to diminish the moving target aspect of it, but we’re very unique in we have the suite capacities we have out there that give us some extra control. We also have a stadium that has three million square feet in it.”

Jones is confident the NFL can play a full season, no matter how many spectators are able to attend, and says an NFL campaign is important to the United States.

“Our country really does place football, whether it’s misplaced or not, at a very high level,” Jones said. “I think it’s important in the country.

“The NFL can be an… inspirational part of how we address COVID, not only the remainder of this year but as we go into ’21.

“It’s easy for me to justify (the costs) for the long-term of interest in football… and what it can bring to the country.”

The Cowboys will follow Texas state health and safety protocols on crowds, Jones said, and those rules now allow 50 percent capacity, still a maximum of 40,000 people for the stadium nicknamed ‘Jerry World.’

“We’ll adhere to all protocols and we will adapt to the uniqueness of our stadium and that’s within the protocol,” Jones said.

“We have a real unique situation and I think that we’re going to be able to really have a great experience.”

Jones said the Cowboys’ safety precautions “won’t be unfamiliar to a lot of people” but adds, “We will have our challenges.”

Several NFL teams, including the Cowboys’ arch-rivals Washington, have said they plan to play without fans in their stadiums this season, with some saying they would trim seating capacity to 25 percent or less of usual seating to make social distancing possible.

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