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Ravens planning for full capacity at M&T Bank Stadium in 2021 season, encourage fans to get vaccinated

In a letter to personal seat license owners, Ravens president Dick Cass said the team is “optimistic that we will have a full stadium of fans this season.”

“Our preparations for the new season are ongoing, and with continuing progress in vaccinations throughout the nation and in our community, we are optimistic that we will have a full stadium of fans this season,” Cass said Tuesday. “We will continue to work diligently with state and local agencies to prepare to host fans safely. To achieve our goal of a full stadium, we encourage everyone in our community to get vaccinated and continue following the best practices recommended by public health authorities.”

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Cass pointed to the team’s experience hosting games last year with implemented safety measures, along with the NFL welcoming 25,000 fans for Super Bowl LV in February and Major League Baseball hosting fans, as encouraging signs with the start of the football season still months away.

Last season, local coronavirus protocols allowed the Ravens to welcome fans for just one game — a Week 8 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Family and friends of the organization were in attendance for two other games.

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In March, Gov. Larry Hogan further relaxed coronavirus restrictions, allowing capacity at outdoor venues up to 50%. Camden Yards reopened at 25% of its capacity to begin the baseball season, with the Orioles allowing approximately 11,000 fans. M&T Bank Stadium holds a capacity of about 71,000 fans.

Hogan said he was planning to meet with Cass on Tuesday to discuss bringing fans back to the stadium.

“We’d like to get a full stadium as soon as the season gets back, too, and that’s fully within our plans,” Hogan said. “My plan is to get things back to normal by Memorial Day.”

A source told The Sun in April that the team is preparing to welcome fans back to M&T Bank Stadium in 2021 but will “remain flexible.”

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“I cannot wait to watch my Ravens, but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over,” Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott said in an emailed statement to The Baltimore Sun. “While I am hopeful that the downward COVID-19 trends in Baltimore will continue through the start of the NFL season, recent history proves case spikes can occur. Whether you are rooting for the Ravens at M&T Stadium or a small gathering with friends, please adhere to the expert guidance from Baltimore City Health Department — maintain social distance, wear a mask, and get fully vaccinated.”

Maryland on Tuesday reported fewer than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the sixth straight day as the number of hospitalizations continued a weeklong slide.

At a predraft news conference in April, general manager Eric DeCosta said he and coach John Harbaugh have been fully vaccinated. He added that “our players have the right to make a decision that they feel is best for them.”

While players are not yet required to get vaccinated, the NFL said it’s working with the NFL Players Association on a set of protocol changes that would apply to teams when vaccination levels reach a “certain threshold,” including relaxed physical-distancing and testing requirements.

Cass said that single-game ticket sales will begin soon after the NFL releases its 2021 schedule on May 12.

Baltimore Sun reporters Jonas Shaffer and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

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