Chiefs' success big reason why fans will be at Super Bowl

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FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2020, file photo, Kansas City Chiefs fans do "the chop" at the start of the team's NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Kansas City, Mo. The Chiefs barred headdresses and war paint amid the nationwide push for racial justice, but its effort to make its popular war chant more palatable is getting a fresh round of scrutiny from Native American groups as the team prepares to make its second straight Super Bowl appearance. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann, File)

There will be about 25,000 fans inside Raymond James Stadium for the Super Bowl on Sunday. One reason the Buccaneers and Chiefs won’t be playing before oceans of empty seats is Kansas City helped to prove it was possible to have folks in the stands.

The Chiefs hosted the Texans in the kickoff to the season. From the start, they followed a plan to allow 22% of capacity — approximately 17,000 fans — for each game at Arrowhead Stadium. Fans had to go through temperature checks; sit in small groups and pods; adhere to strict social-distancing measures; and wear facemasks whenever they weren’t eating or drinking.

Even when COVID-19 numbers were spiking around the country, the Chiefs never experienced an outbreak traced back to their fans. And as the season wore on, other teams began to follow their blueprint for allowing fans into their own stadiums.

Chiefs president Mark Donovan said they take tremendous pride in that as an organization.

“To be the team on that stage the very first weekend and launch NFL football and do it successfully, and then be the last playoff game before the Super Bowl and close that window and do it successfully, that’s a memory I'll share with everybody here for a long, long time,” Donovan said.

PREPPING FOR NOISE

Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians wanted to make sure his Bucs are ready for something they haven’t dealt with much during this season played during a pandemic: noise.

The Bucs had 16,009 in the stands when they routed Atlanta 44-27 to wrap up the regular season. Approximately 25,000 fans will be allowed inside Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, so Arians pumped up the speakers during the Bucs’ 1-hour, 45-minute practice Thursday.