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After Sunday, Broncos won't have fans for final 3 home games

The Broncos are giving 5,700 fans one last chance to attend the game against the Dolphins, then no more fans till next year due to COVID-19.
Credit: AP
Fans sit in the stadium before an NFL football game between the Denver Broncos and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER — Starting with next week’s non-conference contest against the New Orleans Saints, the Broncos have decided they will no longer have fans attend their home games at Empower Field at Mile High.

The Broncos will host up to 5,700 fans for their game this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins at Empower Field. Although not one case of COVID-19 transmission has been traced to the Broncos’ stadium through their first four home games, the spike in coronavirus cases in the surrounding Denver metropolitan area and the state prompted the team to take the precaution of not permitting fans for their final three home games.

"It's very understandable,'' said Broncos head coach Vic Fangio in a Zoom media conference Friday. "It's happened to many teams across the league. We miss our fans. Our fans are probably the most passionate fans in the league. We miss their support.

"Fortunately, I've run into a couple of them late night when I get my gas and stuff and they've all been super supportive of us. I really enjoy talking to our fans. And we're going to miss them. We've missed them all season other than the 5,000 that have been able to be there. And hopefully moving forward they'll be back in there.

"But it's definitely a blow to the team. We miss our fans."

After this Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, the Broncos’ remaining no-fans home schedule: Sunday, November 29 against Emmanuel Sanders and the Saints; Saturday, Dec. 19 or Sunday, Dec. 20 against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills; and the season finale Sunday, Jan. 3 against Jon Gruden’s Las Vegas Raiders.

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The Broncos also didn’t allow fans to attend their season opener on Sept. 14 against Tennessee because of the virus, although they did host approximately 500 friends and family of the team’s players and coaches. There will be no friends and family allowed for the final three games.

Starting with their second home game against Tampa Bay on Sept. 27, Governor Jared Polis allowed the Broncos to have 7.5% of their 76,125-seat stadium capacity occupied by fans, which comes out to 5,709.

A Broncos group of executives that included Joe Ellis, Mac Freeman, Brittany Bowlen, Patrick Smyth, and Jay Roberts held extensive discussions both internally and with state officials regarding the virus spike and not allowing fans on Monday and Tuesday.

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At the time, the team was going to notify its fans early next week about keeping their stadium empty for the Broncos’ final three home games. But with so many fans traveling a good distance to games it was ultimately decided to make the announcement Friday to give them one last chance to attend a game. 

The full team statement is below:

In consultation with state officials and public health experts, the Denver Broncos have made the decision that Sunday will be the final game played in front of fans at Empower Field at Mile High this season. 

Although we are confident in our strong safety protocols and have no evidence of any COVID-19 transmission traced to our home games, the increase in cases and hospitalizations locally requires us to adjust our future plans. Taking this precaution is consistent with the recent guidelines issued by local officials to limit gatherings with the holiday season approaching.

Working in close partnership with the state, the Broncos are fully committed to keeping our community and team safe while doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. As we make this difficult decision, we want to recognize the dedication of our guest relations, stadium and part-time staff for safely and successfully hosting fans through our first five home games.

We are grateful for the support and flexibility of our fans during such a challenging year. It was important to us that fans have one final opportunity to attend a game on Sunday, especially with much of their planning already underway.

The Broncos look forward to welcoming back the best fans in the NFL to Empower Field at Mile High in 2021.