The NFL is “planning to have full stadiums” in the fall according to VP of Football Operations Troy Vincent. Still, the league will yield to medical professionals and government restrictions before opening up the gates.
Vincent was speaking on The Team 908’s The Brian Mitchell Show:
“We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise. Now, remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about September, August, September. So there’s a lot that can happen here. So we’re planning for full stadiums.
“We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums. Three-quarters. So we’re planning for all of these different scenarios. But first and foremost, we’re making every effort, working with the medical community, if we can have those stadiums with all people until they tell us otherwise when that time comes, that’s our plan. That’s our plan of action.”
Games could still be played without fans in attendance, of course, but it’s a major shift in tone from what was being said just a few weeks ago.
The NFL could still rake in considerable revenue without fans, thanks to their TV contracts, but gate attendance still accounts for billions of dollars league-wife. If it’s feasible and safe for fans to fill the seats, Vincent says the league will find a way to make it happen.
While the league is keeping plenty of options on the table, the NFL is still considering a scenario where stadiums are at capacity for the 2020 season.
According to the Worldodometer, the United States has confirmed more than 1,686,436 cases of the coronavirus and 99,300 deaths from the disease.
Sports leagues, most notably the KBO League (South Korean baseball league) and German Bundesliga (Germany’s top soccer league) have slowly started returning around the world as well, although without any fans in attendance.
Because the pandemic’s spread largely started taking hold in the U.S. during the NFL’s offseason, the league’s business hasn’t been impacted too much. Free agency continues to unfold as usual, while the draft and preseason preparations have been done remotely.
The NFL’s Hall of Fame Game is scheduled for Aug. 6, and the regular season kicks off Sept. 10.
While that leaves league officials time to see how the situation evolves, the obvious question is whether a second wave of the coronavirus looms on the horizon, which would jeopardize the feasibility of large public events.