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Dolphins owner says 2020 season will 'definitely' happen

FILE PHOTO: Dec 15, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross greets fans before the game between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said on Tuesday he believes the NFL’s 2020 season will take place as scheduled later this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic and that his team’s plan is to have fans in attendance.

Speaking in an interview with CNBC, the 80-year-old real estate developer said the league wants to have fans in place but that plan is subject to change before the regular season begins on Sept. 10.

“I think definitely there will be a football season this year,” Ross told CNBC. “The real question is will there be fans in the stadium?

“Right now, today, we’re planning to have fans in the stadium. But I think the NFL is looking at, and is very flexible, so that we will be able to start on time and bring that entertainment that is so needed for all of us in this country.”

Miami’s home opener is scheduled for Sept. 20 against AFC East division rival Buffalo.

The Dolphins went 5-11 in 2019 and finished last in the division but there is plenty of excitement in Miami after the team selected quarterback Tua Tagovailoa with the fifth overall pick of last month’s NFL Draft, which was held in a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tagovailoa, who had hip surgery last November following an injury that ended projections of him being top draft pick, is an accurate, mobile, deep-ball throwing quarterback who some feel could be the cornerstone of the Dolphins years to come.

The NFL, America’s most popular sports league, was already in its offseason when the COVID-19 outbreak brought the sporting world to a halt in March.

Earlier this month the NFL said franchises are allowed to re-open team facilities provided they follow state and local regulations and are compliant with additional public health requirements.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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