‘Limited’ fans will return to Falcons, Atlanta United games in October

Mercedes-Benz Stadium is empty of fans but the Atlanta Falcons open the roof as they prepare to play the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

A limited number of fans will be allowed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Falcons and Atlanta United home games, beginning with the Falcons' Oct. 11 game, the teams said Tuesday.

The teams didn’t specify how many fans will be permitted in the stadium, but they earlier described a possible capacity of 10,000 to 20,000 to accommodate social-distancing guidelines amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. They’re expected to settle on a figure near the lower end of that range. At full capacity, Mercedes-Benz Stadium seats more than 71,000.

Information will be released later regarding ticket access and game-day protocols.

The Falcons and Atlanta United said Tuesday that the decision to allow fans to return in a limited-capacity stadium configuration was “based on several factors including the recent decline in COVID-19 cases in the state of Georgia."

The teams said they "will continue to collaborate with national and local health officials and reserve the right to return to play without fans should current conditions related to the global pandemic change.”

In August, the teams announced that no fans would be allowed to attend their home games through September because of the pandemic.

The Falcons’ Oct. 11 game against Carolina will be their third home game of the season. The team’s season opener against Seattle on Sept. 13 was played without fans in attendance. There will be no fans at Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears except for roughly 500 “friends, family and associates” that the Falcons said will be there to allow the stadium operations staff “to assess and address any issues that might surface and be ready to have fans back in the building."

The Falcons’ final six regular-season home games will have fans in attendance, barring a change of plans from Tuesday’s announcement.

Atlanta United has played four games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium without fans in attendance and has three more home games before Oct. 11 that also will be played without fans. That will leave the team with only two regular-season home matches to be played with fans: Oct. 24 and Nov. 1. Atlanta United said season-ticket holders will receive information beginning the week of Oct. 5 about ticket allocations.

“We are thrilled to invite fans of both the Falcons and Atlanta United back to Mercedes-Benz Stadium,” Steve Cannon, CEO of the teams’ parent company, AMB Sports and Entertainment, said in a statement. “Having fans watch from alternative locations was a difficult but important decision. It’s been challenging for both teams to play without fans, but their well-being as well as the safety of our associates and fans was paramount.”

AMBSE officials previously said that, if fans were permitted at games this year, masks or other face coverings would be mandatory. They have said family members or others with tickets together would be able to sit in adjacent seats, but that otherwise there would be at least six feet of distance between occupied seats.

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