NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Tennessee Titans will play their home opener at Nissan Stadium without fans next month and the Nashville SC will also not host fans through Septmeber.
Mayor John Cooper made the announcement on Tuesday morning during his twice-weekly COVID-19 update.
"Across the United States, there’s a wide range of approaches to in-person attendance for professional sports based on a wide range of public health policies and the prevalence of the coronavirus in those locations,” Cooper said. “We cannot wave our public health principles no matter how much we are rooting for our home teams."
The mayor said fans will not be hosted at Nissan Stadium through August and September at the very least.
"We may ease these restrictions based on improved COVID-19 numbers and the experiences of other NFL and MLS cities," Mayor Cooper said. "In Nashville, we have three times the level that restricts travel in the United States. We cannot add any risk from potential super-spreader events."
Titans President and CEO Burke Nihill and Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre were present during the press conference where each echoed their support for the decision.
“There’s certainly no denying that we wish we would be opening our home schedule on Sept. 20 in front of fans,” Nihill said. “NFL football is a game meant to be played in front of a loud, cheering crowd and no one desires that outcome more than us. However, these are not normal times and as civic leaders in this great city, we understand and support Mayor Cooper and Metro Nashville Public Health Department’s decision today to delay welcoming fans into Nissan Stadium.”
The Titans will play their first game on September 14 against the Denver Broncos and will return to Nashville for their home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on September 20.
Nihill said the team has been working with local health experts to build a stadium safety plan when the time comes to open back up to fans. Full details have yet to be released, but the plan does include mandatory face coverings, socially-distant seating, contactless faucets, hand sanitizer stations throughout the station and individually-wrapped food items.
During the press conference, Nihill made a plea to Titans fans to work together to bring back spectators at Nissan Stadium.
"Titans fans: We need you to be diligent about limiting the spread of this deadly virus. We need you to wear a mask and encourage your friends and family to wear masks to we can welcome fans back to Nissan Stadium soon," he said.
While MLS has already resumed its season, the Nashville SC has yet to resume playing at Nissan Stadium. The team will take the field for on August 30 and will continue without fans through September 12.
"It’s hard to believe that almost six months ago, on Feb. 29, we welcomed 60,000 fans at our inaugural match in Major League Soccer, and even harder to realize the change our lives have endured since then,” said Ayre during the press conference. "As we prepare to return to playing games back at Nissan Stadium starting on Aug. 30, we will miss the support from those 60,000 fans. Whilst we all know the value of fans to their team, we believe that it’s important that we all take responsibility in fighting this virus by taking a responsible approach for the safety of everyone."
Both teams have created a robust testing system for testing players and employees.
Ayre said with the help of Vanderbilt, players are tested every two days and additionally before travel. Visiting teams will not stay overnight, but will have a dedicated facility where players can rest before games.
As for the Titans, Nihill said the team constructed a testing facility on its headquarters were everyone is tested daily. The NFL is still working through a plan for the league's travel rules.