After talk of finding a new city for their home games to have fans in attendance this season, the New Orleans Saints can stay put at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and gradually build up their spectator counts.
Thanks to an agreement between the team and New Orleans' mayor, LaToya Cantrell, doors will open to 3,000 fans on Sunday when the Saints host the Carolina Panthers.
Assuming that coronavirus numbers in New Orleans remain stable, Superdome attendance can rise to 6,000 for games in November and 15,000 in December.
The city boasts one of the lowest rates of positive COVID-19 tests in the country, about 1 percent, according to New Orleans television station WWL's website.
Calling it a "pilot exercise," Cantrell said the agreement with the Saints is "consistent with the city's Phase 3 re-opening."
"The way forward towards additional expansion depends on the current trends remaining stable. An outbreak or a sudden increase in community spread would be reason to pause," she added.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel said that in addition to protocols and safety measures at the Superdome, the city "will also be strictly enforcing crowd gatherings throughout the Central Business District and French Quarter on game days to ensure all city regulations are being observed."
In previous home games, the Saints were limited to 750 team staff and players' family members.
The Saints are the 19th NFL franchise to have at least some spectators from the public at their home games, according to ESPN.
New Orleans (3-2) is in second place in the NFC South, one-half game behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) and one-half game ahead of the Panthers (3-3).
--Field Level Media