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State approves fans returning to Saints games, team releases plan

(WITN)
Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 2:57 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The New Orleans Saints sent out guidelines Tuesday regarding how the team could reopen the Superdome to fans this upcoming NFL season during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Governor (John Bel) Edwards and Mayor (LaToya) Cantrell, along with their staffs, have been extremely supportive of our hosting fans as soon as it is safe to do so. The New Orleans Saints greatly appreciate their leadership and efforts to keep our community safe,” the Saints said in an email to season ticket holders. “We have met with our state and local government officials to review our comprehensive health and safety plan to allow us to host fans in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season while protecting the health of our fans, players, staff and community.”

The team said this plan can only be implemented when our government leaders have determined that the rate of infection, positivity rate of testing and ability of our healthcare system to treat patients meet acceptable thresholds to allow large public events.

State officials have given their approval for fans to attend the Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers on Sept. 27. The team said the it is in continuing talks with the city on how to accommodate fans safely.

The Superdome will only be open to 25% capacity.

“It is imperative that our fans know that the health and safety of all those attending our games is the highest priority of not only the New Orleans Saints but also state and local officials,” the team said.

The team needs city approval before it can move forward with its plan.

Cantrell said that the city is still considering how to host events in the city while keeping its citizens safe. She said that the city needs to consider its own resources - like police, EMS and other first responders.

“At this time, I’m not even thinking about September 27,” she said. However, she said she is happy to continue working with the Saints on a plan to return to the Superdome.

The Saints gave season ticket holders their first look at what the season could look like:

GAME DAY CAPACITY As the world knows, our fans create the greatest home-field advantage in all of sports and while we were hoping to play with a full stadium, current health conditions and government policies will not allow us to do so. We will, instead, plan to begin the season with a partial attendance policy for each of the regular season games that are played with fans in attendance.

While some NFL teams will not have fans in attendance this season and others have opted to cancel season tickets altogether, we want ALL of our Season Ticket Holders to have equitable access to attend games. In addition, we want to preserve as much of what makes your game experience special by ensuring that you can continue to attend games with your trusted friends and families by not breaking up your account into smaller seating configurations. We will be treating each group of tickets on your account as a unique “account pod” (a “pod” is defined as the number of seats that may be seated together) that will be socially distanced from other ticket account pods. This approach will allow us to maintain flexibility to respond to potential changes to health conditions and safety guidelines that could potentially allow for increased attendance throughout the season.

GAME & SEAT ASSIGNMENTS In order to accomplish these goals, we’re putting Season Ticket Holders on a two (2) or three (3) game rotation system. The final rotation will depend on the total number of Season Ticket Holders that need to be accommodated once the opt-out deadline has passed. For example, each account will be randomly assigned one (1) of the first two (2) OR three (3) regular season games that are played with fans in attendance. The random assignments will be based on how ticket account pods can be configured to meet the NFL and CDC social distancing guidelines. While we are doing our best to make these assignments as close to your actual seat location and section as possible, the social distancing guidelines required by the CDC, NFL and our local and state officials make it impossible to issue exact seat locations in most cases. Your first game and seat assignment will be emailed to you the week of September 14 with the subject line “Your Saints Tickets”. Following the assignment of games, any additional single game tickets that become available will be offered via lottery to Season Ticket Holders who were not granted access to the individual game.

After the first rotation is assigned, future game and seat assignments will be dictated by continued guidance from our health and safety experts and governmental requirements (including the CDC). These policies will be communicated to season ticket holders approximately one month in advance of the actual games. We’ll proactively contact you about the possibility of adding additional games if and when tickets become available.

NEW HEALTH & SAFETY PROTOCOLS In order to execute this plan, we will be shifting all accounts to mobile tickets and parking passes. This will create a safer, contactless experience and allow for increased flexibility and efficiency throughout the season as we adapt to updated conditions and guidelines. You will be able to view and manage your mobile tickets and parking passes by logging into Account Manager on the Saints mobile app. More details around mobile ticketing and new game day protocols will be provided to you soon, including the NFL’s mandate that all fans and staff wear face masks while attending games and the closure of Champion’s Square on game days. The requirement to wear masks will be enforced by the NFL as part of its Fan Code of Conduct and those who do not comply will be subject to ejection and possible loss of Season Tickets going forward.

OPT-OUT & RESALE POLICIES As with the cancelled preseason games, you will have the option to receive a credit toward your 2021 season tickets or receive a refund for games you are not assigned. As a reminder, any previous ticket transfers and re-sales have been cancelled; however, the option to transfer or resell your newly assigned 2020 tickets will be available to you in Account Manager once you receive your mobile tickets. Please carefully review the updated terms and conditions before making any transfer or resale transactions.

You may also choose to opt out of your season tickets this year until 5:30 pm CT on September 9; however, please note that once you opt out you will not be guaranteed access to tickets for the remainder of the 2020 season, including any potential postseason games. If you choose to opt out, you can download the opt-out form with directions for requesting a credit or requesting a refund. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your designated ticket representative, reply directly to this email or call us at (504) 731-1700. For your convenience, we will have extended hours until 8:00pm CT tonight.

“While we are not beginning the season the way any of us would like to, we hope we can count on you to be there not just to support our team on the field, but also to represent all of the fans who cannot attend each game. We will need you to “do your job”, more than ever, in creating the best home field advantage in sports despite these challenging circumstances. Thank you, in advance, for your patience and understanding as we work together through these challenging times. We will be following up with you shortly with more information on game assignments, health and safety protocols and other game information.”

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