Cardinals allowing family an ‘important step’ toward fans in stands
The Arizona Cardinals have not played in front of fans for the first two weeks of action to start the season.
That all changes in Week 3, however, as the 2-0 Cardinals announced Wednesday family members and close friends of the team can attend Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at State Farm Stadium.
A maximum of 750 family and friends will be in attendance in what the team is dubbing a test run of sorts.
Joining The Mike Broomhead Show on KTAR News on Friday, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill explained the importance of Sunday’s crowd and what it could mean for the rest of the season.
“[The players’] families haven’t been able to watch them and this is almost going to be old school, high school football where the only people in the stands are your family and close friends,” Bidwill said Friday. “They’re really excited about it. And I think there’s a right way to do it because we want to be able to test our fan health and safety protocols with the stadium and with the personnel we got there and just make sure we didn’t miss anything.
“This will give us a good chance to test and we feel good because our players and most of our staff is getting tested everyday. We feel good about it. We’ve got all sorts of protocols with the stadium.”
Bidwill added that the protocols include seating family members and friends in twos and in groups of four. Seats will be zip tied off in between groups of people to maintain a social distance of six feet.
As for the general return of fans back in the stands, Bidwill says the test group of as many as 750 people will be very telling as to what the next steps are at State Farm Stadium.
“I wouldn’t put a date on it, but [Arizona Department of Health Services director] Dr. [Cara] Christ, who we spoke to about this concept of testing things, described it as an important next step for fans to safely return to in-person viewing,” Bidwill said. “But she highlighted the most critical factor will be the COVID transmission rate statewide. … It’s in the moderate category now but there’s concern in at least of couple of counties that an increase of cases could be coming as early as next week so that’s a concern.”
As of Friday, the state has seen a decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths, a promising sign for the return of fans back in the stands. Arizona’s confirmed or suspected COVID-19 inpatients fell to 521 on Thursday, one of the lowest marks since April. The number of COVID-19 patients in ICU beds also dipped to 119, the second-lowest mark recorded since the pandemic began.
Still, based on the state’s current level of COVID-19 transmission being in the “moderate category,” Christ recommended the next step of the resumption of fans in attendance should not occur until Arizona is in the “minimal category.”
And while the number of spectators exceeds the state health department’s recommendation for in-person gathering, health officials feel it is a controlled group that likely has already had significant contact with one another and that proper protocols are in place.
“I think overall for our fans, our family and friends, it’s going to be a great experience and our players were thrilled that (owner Michael Bidwill) is doing that,” Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Wednesday. “We’re excited to test those protocols and Michael could have easily passed those tickets along to other people but decided to give them to us.
“Our players were fired up. They’re going to be excited to play in that kind of intimate setting with family and friends and I just think (it’s) an awesome deal.”