NFL to allow 22,000 Super Bowl fans

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – The NFL announced Friday that 7,500 healthcare workers vaccinated against the coronavirus will receive free tickets to next month’s Super Bowl which will be played in Tampa, Fla.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also said in a statement that participation in the Feb. 7 game would be limited to those workers and around 14,500 other fans. Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has a capacity of just under 66,000 people, according to its website.

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Most of the healthcare workers who will receive free game tickets will come from the Tampa Bay area and central Florida, Goodell said. But he added that the 32 NFL teams would choose workers from their cities to attend the game.

“These dedicated healthcare workers continue to put their lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our continued gratitude,” said Goodell. “We hope this initiative inspires our country and recognizes these true American heroes.”

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There will also be what Goodell called “a variety of special moments” to honor healthcare workers in the stadium during the game and also on CBS television.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said the NFL decision was a perfect way to honor healthcare workers at such a high-profile event.

“Our country has endured too much in the past year and we cannot lose sight of those who have worked day in and day out to keep us safe,” Castor said in the NFL statement.

As with NFL games throughout the season, the Super Bowl will feature mandatory masks, social distancing, contactless concession stands, and controlled entry and exit. The NFL has had around 1.2 million fans who have attended 116 games so far during the regular season and playoffs, Goodell said.

This Sunday’s two conference championships will determine which teams meet in the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay travels to face the Green Bay Packers in the NFC, while the defending Kansas City Chiefs champion welcomes the Buffalo Bills to the AFC.

If Tampa Bay wins, the Buccaneers will be the first team to play in a Super Bowl on their field.

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