(AdventHealth is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)
As the NFL nears the halfway point of its 2020 regular season, the league has seen its share of positive COVID tests… but that’s not stopping the show. The reality is that positive tests have become part of the journey to the safe return to sports, and each team is taking measures to minimize risk for their players, staff and fans.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened their doors to fans for their game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 4, Raymond James Stadium was ready. In partnership with AdventHealth, stadium staff and Bucs officials unveiled a carefully designed set of protocols for a safe and healthy gameday.
For player and staff safety, the Bucs implemented procedures put in place by the NFL and NFLPA that include the required use of face masks at all times, hand sanitizing stations throughout the facility, plexiglass in meal service areas, restricted zones inside the facility to decrease the chance of cross-contamination and the use of contact tracing to monitor the team. Socially-distanced meeting spaces were installed where the team’s front offices once were, and the primary dining room is now outdoors. Player equipment is being cleaned daily with ultraviolet disinfectant to eliminate germs and bacteria.
“Our team staff and our players have been hyper vigilant—for themselves and for each other — as we all work together to bring Bucs football back to the fans in Tampa,” said Buccaneers Chief Operating Officer Brian Ford. ”I’m proud of this organization, our partnership with AdventHealth and all we have accomplished together in these unprecedented times.”
When the team is not at the facility, the Bucs are compliant with social restrictions put in place in a joint effort with the NFL. While on the road, players are not permitted to leave their hotel rooms. They may not share rides with teammates or staff or dine out in restaurants. All meals are prepared by serving staff and delivered directly to the players in their rooms. Community appearances have gone 100% virtual to reduce the risk of infection.
The fan experience at Raymond James Stadium looks a lot different, too. Game attendees are enjoying socially-distanced pod seating, touchless bathroom faucets, soap dispensers and toilets, UV lights on high touch areas like escalator handrails and elevators, cashless payment and ticketless transactions.
“We know fans want to be in the stadium, and the best way for that to happen is to follow safety guidelines. We’re encouraging everyone to stand by the ‘Bucs Fan Promise,’” said Dr. Simon Edginton of AdventHealth. “Our collaboration with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a great example of how to effectively work as a team to keep people safe.”
Fans are also benefiting from HEPA filtration in indoor areas and a strict cleaning and sanitation protocol throughout the building. Per Bucs leadership, the stadium is in the process of being accredited as a Global Biorisk Advisory Council Star Facility — the cleaning industry’s only outbreak prevention, response, and recovery accreditation for facilities.
“As the season continues, we will continue to work with local and state authorities as well as the league office to follow CDC guidelines so that we can remain vigilant for our fans, players and staff,” said Ford. “The health and safety of all of our fans and our team members is of the utmost important to us and our top priority.”