By Conor McCue

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Starting Sept. 27, a small crowd of mostly season ticket holders will be able to cheer on the Denver Broncos in-person. While many season ticket holders will jump at the chance to join a lottery for seats, some will still watch games from home for now.

Gov. Jared Polis and Brittany Bowlen, VP of Strategic Initiatives, announced the Broncos’ plans for allowing a limited number of fans on Tuesday afternoon. The plan, which the Broncos worked on with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, allows a maximum of 5,700 people to attend games, which amounts to approximately 7.5% of the stadium’s capacity.

(credit: Tim Larison)

“Fans are a big part of our team,” said Bowlen. “They bring our entire building to life.”

Broncos super fan and season ticket holder, Tim Larison, has been a big part of the team for more than 50 years. He still proudly tells the story of how he attended the 1967 home opener at Mile High Stadium with his brother.

“The ticket price for a kid, 11 years old, at the time, was $2,” Larison said.

The next year, Larison convinced his mom to let him buy a season ticket, which cost $14. Since then, he’s kept his season ticket and acquired another one, spent time running the team’s booster club, attended a Super Bowl, and only missed one opening game.

“I missed the Peyton Manning debut, I think it was 2012,” Larison said. “I had a prearranged cruise that year, so I couldn’t change the date.”

Now, because of COVID-19, Larison and other fans have a decision to make. Starting with the week 3 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the new normal for Broncos games will begin.

(credit: CBS)

It includes a cap of 5,700 mask-wearing fans, broken up into groups of 175. Each group will have their own entrance, touchless bathrooms and concessions. Tailgating will not be allowed.

Seating will also involve socially distant “pods” of 1-6 close friends or family members.

“That would allow for the groups that do have an outbreak, the contact tracing and the notification of others in that group,” said Polis.

A lottery for tickets will be mostly reserved for season ticket holders, but Larison won’t be joining to start the season.

“Given my health, I’m in my 60s, so I have to be cautious,” Larison said.

(credit: CBS)

Larison admits it may be tougher for him to stick to that plan if the Broncos are winning. Until then, he, like many others, is curious what the atmosphere inside the stadium will be for the first game with fans.

“Hopefully, the fans that attend will be very vocal and rattle Tom Brady, but it will be different,” he said.

For now, Larison’s plan is to watch the games from home and restart his home opener attendance streak in 2021.

“I just want to see a win on that Monday night, and I’ll be happy, even if I’m not there.”

Conor McCue