After being filled with games that featured empty stadiums, the NFL season will conclude with fans in attendance. Two weeks before the championship game, the league has announced that 22,000 fans will watch Super Bowl LV in person at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. 

Free tickets will be given to 7,500 health care workers who received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine. Most of those workers will come from health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area, though all 32 teams will select some vaccinated workers from their respective communities.

“These dedicated health care workers continue to put their own lives at risk to serve others, and we owe them our ongoing gratitude,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We hope in a small way that this initiative will inspire our country and recognize these true American heroes. This is also an opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.”

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game, the Bucs will become the first team to play a Super Bowl in its home stadium. That could mean a large portion of the free tickets will go to fans of a team in the game on Feb. 7.

More than 1.2 million fans attended 116 games during the 2020 regular season. More than half of the regular-season contests didn’t have any paying customers in attendance.

“We are grateful for the leadership the NFL has shown in thanking our health care workers and promoting vaccine acceptance around Super Bowl LV,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees said. “I applaud them for making safety their top priority, and for taking a thoughtful approach to make sure that the Super Bowl will be a safe and meaningful experience for fans and the Tampa Bay community.”

Fans will be forced to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, including wearing masks and social distancing. There will be touchless experiences at concession stands and security checkpoints.

More than 62,000 fans attended last year's Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

The NFL wants to invite healthcare workers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as guests at this season's Super Bowl at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa The NFL wants to invite healthcare workers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as guests at this season's Super Bowl at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Mike Ehrmann