No... we’re not referring to Chiefs fans who are space aliens — or even to shipping containers that are loaded with regular Earthlings and airlifted into Arrowhead Stadium.
While either of those ideas might be... interesting... on certain levels, Robinson explained that “pods” is simply the term being used to describe groups of fans who are willing to sit together to watch the game.
Talking with different #NFL teams, the buzz word you’re going to hear a lot for fan attendance is “pods”. The goal is moving toward finding clusters of people who have made a decision to cluster together (while masking up), then distance the clusters from one another in stadium.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) August 12, 2020
And in a lot of ways, it makes sense. When the coronavirus pandemic first brewed up in the spring, NFL teams began exploring ways to safely bring fans to their stadiums while observing social distancing guidelines. The immediate thought was to simply reduce the number of people allowed in stadiums by half or two-thirds — and then just seat them in a way in which no one is sitting in close proximity to anyone else.
But it’s easy to see the problem with this. While it’s not unknown for fans to attend games by themselves, most come in pairs or groups. It’s common for couples and families to attend games and sit together — and in many such cases, these groups of people are already living within their own COVID-19 “bubble” — so that when seated together, they would carry little additional risk among themselves.
Of course, some groups who attend games do not consist of family members but are instead groups of friends. Robinson’s report would suggest that teams are considering allowing these kinds of groups to sit together — if they so choose.
Further details about how the Chiefs would execute this idea are not yet known. But the Cowboys — a team that is planning to have at least some fans in AT&T Stadium for their home games — have released some details.
The Chiefs won’t necessarily do things the same way — but the Dallas plan does give us an idea of what it might look like at Arrowhead.
The Cowboys’ plan suggests that the “pods” will be established before game day — and fans will be asked not to transfer tickets to people outside of their group. Fans will be required to wear masks when they’re not eating or drinking. Tickets will be 100% digital, and all financial transactions within the stadium will be handled with “touchless” phone apps. (The Chiefs announced this week they will be using a system called Tappit to make all Arrowhead transactions cashless).
Tailgating will be allowed, but only in designated areas of the parking lot — and with at least one empty space between cars.
With less than a month to go until the scheduled home opener against the Houston Texans on Thursday, September 10, the Chiefs have not yet announced when tickets will be available for any of this season’s home games. The team does intend to host a limited number of fans for its home games — but working with state and local officials, haven’t yet established a maximum safe capacity for the stadium.
Exploring “pods” is another indication the Chiefs are continuing to work on getting at least some fans into Arrowhead this season — and are working on ways to make the experience as normal as they possibly can.