Inter Miami’s DRV PNK Stadium is about to get a lot louder.
The club announced on Tuesday that “due to the rapid distribution of vaccinations in South Florida and increased demand from our loyal fans” the stadium will operate at full capacity while abiding by MLS guidelines for all home matches starting with the May 29 game against D.C. United.
Per league COVID rules, certain sections around the field must remain protected, so the capacity will fall just under 18,000. The two home games so far were capped at 8,000 fans. Inter Miami becomes the first South Florida professional sports team to announce it is returning to full capacity since the pandemic shut down sports in March 2020.
The 8 p.m. match will broadcast locally on CBS 4, UniMás and the Inter Miami app.
Inter Miami will continue reinforcing the health protocols at the stadium, including requiring face masks unless eating or drinking and encouraging social distancing in the concourses. The club will follow strict cleaning measures between games and will provide hand sanitizing stands.
Midfielder Jay Chapman was delighted with the news: “It’s been so tough with COVID. When there’s no fans in the stadium, it doesn’t feel like a professional game. The motivation’s there to win for your team, but if you’re down in the 75th minute and you need a goal, it’s the fans that motivate you.
“Without fans, the game’s just boring, to be honest. The fact that we’ll have all of ‘La Familia’ in the stadium at the same time is incredible. None of us have seen it yet. We’ve seen glimpses and I think we’re right up there with the best fans in the league.”.
Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas added: “This is an exciting development for Inter Miami, our fans, and partners, who have waited over a year to truly debut our stadium and experience a night of fútbol at full capacity.”
Starting with the May 29 game, season-ticket members will be able to return to their originally selected seat locations. They can log into their Account Manager at this link for information.
Season-ticket members will also have an exclusive presale opportunity to purchase additional tickets to home matches. Following the presale window, all 2021 home matches will be made available to the general public.
GAME PREVIEW: INTER MIAMI VS. CF MONTREAL
In normal times, Inter Miami would enter Wednesday night’s game (7:30 p.m., My33) with a home-field advantage over CF Montreal. This season, the Canadian rivals will feel right at home at DRV PNK Stadium because they are sharing the facility with Inter Miami due to COVID-related restrictions across the U.S.-Canadian border.
Montreal players, who typically train in a chillier climate this time of year, have spent the past month based in Fort Lauderdale, getting acclimated to South Florida’s heat and humidity. The team has been sharing Inter Miami’s training grounds and using the stadium as its temporary home.
“We were joking in the locker room whether this is a home or away game,” said Chapman, who has taken on a bigger role on and off the field this season. “No, it’s definitely a home game for us. They’ve been here training, but not as long as us. This is our home. Maybe they’ll be a little more acclimatized than any other year, but it’s still our home. The majority of us have been playing here a lot longer than they have.”
Miami will be missing Robbie Robinson and Nico Figal (hamstring injuries). Kelvin Leerdam and Julian Carranza are 50-50, per coach Phil Neville. Blaise Matuidi, who had sore ribs after a collision against Atlanta Sunday, is recovered and will start.
Neville said although Miami’s four opponents have possessed the ball more, he doesn’t want to “shackle” his team, wants players like Rodolfo Pizarro, Gonzalo Higuain, and Lewis Morgan to have freedom to express themselves, and he is fine with dribblers vs. passers so long as the team is creating scoring chances and playing exciting soccer.
Both teams are under the direction of new coaches and have the same results over four games — 1 win, 2 ties, 1 loss. Miami is coming off 1-1 tie with Atlanta United. Montreal coming off a 2-0 loss to Vancouver and had an extra day of rest as its game was Saturday and Miami’s was Sunday.
Montreal scored six goals in its first two games but has failed to score in the past two matches.
Montreal players to watch include midfielder Victor Wanyama, who is captain of the Kenyan national team; Honduran forward Romell Quioto; and U.S. midfielder Djordje Mihalovic.