Fins owner: NFL season will ‘definitely’ happen

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is optimistic that the 2020 NFL season will go on as planned amid the coronavirus pandemic, and his current plan is that it will be with fans in the stands.

“I think there definitely will be a football season this year,” Ross said Tuesday during an interview with CNBC. “Real question is, will there be fans in the stadium? Right now — today — we’re planning to have fans in the stadium.”

The NFL hasn’t made any firm decisions on whether to allow fans into stadiums during the 2020 season, but the league released its schedule earlier this month and plans to play its full 16-game slate on time, starting Sept. 10.

“We all miss our sports,” Ross said. “The NFL, I think, will be ready to go. I know we’re all looking forward to it. I know I am.”

Earlier this month, Dolphins CEO/president Tom Garfinkel revealed mock-up plans for how the team could host a limited capacity of fans while adhering to social distancing in Hard Rock Stadium. The mock-up plan, to be featured if and when the NFL and government give clearance, could include 15,000 fans in the stadium, all attendees wearing masks, staggered entrances and exits, and people ordering food from their seats.

The Dolphins have been proactive throughout the pandemic in creating plans for when football is ready to resume. Hard Rock Stadium became the first public facility to earn the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR accreditation, the standard used for facilities to implement cleaning, disinfecting and infectious disease prevention work practices to control risks involved with infectious agents like the coronavirus.

Ross noted again Tuesday that the Dolphins are “prepared” for scenarios with and without fans in the stands. The NFL began allowing teams to reopen facilities, if permitted by local guidelines, to limited staff on May 19.

Speaking as chairman of his real estate company Related, Ross said retail and hotel companies have been most affected by the pandemic but that he’s hopeful the economy and cities will start to bounce back.

“We all want to see life back to normal,” Ross said.