Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has given his state’s NFL team, the Miami Dolphins, the green light to have a full capacity of 65,000 fans at Hard Rock Stadium, according to a spokesperson for DeSantis.
Talk show host Andy Slater announced this week that the Dolphins had been given clearance to sell out the stadium, but the team still plans to allow just 13,000 fans while Miami plays at home again on Oct. 25.
DeSantis has been advocating for a complete reopening for several months, but approved of a plan earlier this year to enforce social distancing among fans at in-person games.
“They’re not going to make a lot of money this season,” DeSantis said in late August, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“Putting all the money they did into this to give fans the ability to watch some football in person, I think, means a lot,” he said.
A socially-distanced game is better than an empty one, DeSantis added.
“Look, we’ve been watching sports on TV, but when you watch the NBA with an empty arena, or Major League Baseball with an empty stadium, it’s just not quite the same,” he said. “I know this isn’t going to be people falling from the rafters here, but I think it is something that will give people a little bit of hope.”
Allowing the state’s sports teams to reopen quickly is part of DeSantis’s strategy to make his state the epicenter of professional sports following the coronavirus pandemic.
He’s invited multiple teams to hold their events in Florida, including WrestleMania and the UFC. He also invited the professional leagues to resume in-person practices in their Florida facilities as early as May.
“The one thing I am going to do, probably this week, is all professional sports are welcome here for practicing and for playing,” DeSantis said back in May.
“Now, we’re not going to necessarily have fans, but there’s been reports that Major League Soccer may want to have their season in Orlando,” he added. “Do it. We want to have ya’ here.”
DeSantis said his desire to bring back sports is rooted in the understanding that this is “an important part of people’s lives,” he said. “So we want to be able to do that.”