NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Superdome remains on track to open at full capacity for New Orleans Saints games this season, but only to fans who provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours prior to games, and who wear masks.
The City of New Orleans enacted new rules Thursday for entertainment venues and indoor facilities hosting large social gatherings on the heels of spiking COVID-19 related hospitalizations in the state in recent weeks. That came after the State of Louisiana enacted a mask mandate for such venues.
Tulane, a private college located in New Orleans, said it will have the same vaccination and testing requirements to attend its home sporting events, becoming the first major college football team to make such a move.
In a statement Thursday, the Saints expressed both an intent to enforce the new rules at homes games, but also empathy for fans who might be frustrated by the new hurdle to enter games.
Last season, fans could attend games with masks and temperature checks, but sold only a few thousand tickets per game to the 73,000-seat Superdome.
“We are committed to doing everything we can in the current environment to protect your health and safety while at the same time providing the best game day experience in the NFL,” the Saints’ statement said. “We understand some will be frustrated, as are we, that we find ourselves in this position.”
The Saints play their first home exhibition game Aug. 23.
The club also said it would be joining with Ochsner Health System, one of the club’s chief sponsors, to stage vaccination events in the New Orleans area as well as outside the Superdome on game days.
“We remain optimistic that, with our community’s help and as vaccination rates increase, these restrictions will no longer be necessary as the season progresses,” the team said.
Tulane plays its home football games at Yulman Stadium, a 30,000-seat venue on campus.
Athletic director Troy Dannen told AP the school had been moving toward requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 to attend games, but having the city enact a rule made the choice for the university.
Tulane has required students to be vaccinated to attend fall classes or apply for a waiver. The school has said its student body has a vaccination rate of more than 90%.
The Green Wave football team opens this season at home against Oklahoma on Sept. 4.
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