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Browns to submit variance request beyond Ohio’s limit of 1,500 fans

The Browns continue their fight to host fans in 2020.

Cincinnati Bengals v Cleveland Browns Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Earlier this week, Jimmy and Dee Haslam expressed that they were working with the state of Ohio in hopes of having 20% of stadium capacity filled at FirstEnergy Stadium in 2020.

A few days later, Governor Mike DeWine released an order that talked about sports regulations in Ohio, including spectators at games. The order allows for the lesser of 15% of a stadium’s capacity or 1,500 fans. The capacity at FirstEnergy Stadium is over 67,000, and 15% of that would be about 10,000 fans. Between 10,000 and 1,500, that means FirstEnergy Stadium could only host 1,500 fans since it is the lesser of the two numbers.

However, organizations can submit variance requests for permission to go beyond the default order. According to Peter John-Baptiste, the Browns’ Senior VP of Communications, the Browns are indeed submitting a variance request. If the Browns following through with their intent to have 20% of stadium capacity filled, it would amount to over 13,000 fans being in attendance.

Earlier this week, DeWine was on SiriusXM Radio and indicated that no decision had been made on attendance for Ohio’s NFL teams, although he did say that both organizations had submitted good plans. DeWine was less concerned about how fans in the stadium would be safe, and more concerned about the pre- and post-game stuff outside the stadium, which could help spread the virus.

We’ll keep following the story at it comes along. As of this moment, the Browns have not announced whether fans will be permitted to attend the team’s home opener on Thursday Night Football in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals.