By Joseph Tucker
Rather than prohibiting fans from attending games this fall, the NFL will allow individual teams to set limits regarding stadium capacity, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan.
Kaplan reported the league instructed franchises to follow whatever local guidelines are in place regarding the COVID-19 pandemic: “In other words, as of now, the NFL will not dictate capacity thresholds no matter the virus penetration on the ground.”
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, said on The Team 980’s The Brian Mitchell Show in May (via NBC Sports) the league was operating under the idea stadiums will be full in 2020 unless medical advisers say otherwise. Vincent added the NFL was bracing for limited-capacity scenarios as well:
“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.”
Some colleges have also said they could limit the number of available tickets to enforce social-distancing guidelines.
NASCAR allowed as many as 5,000 fans to attend Monday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The most obvious concern is whether it’s advisable for the NFL to let fans back in stadiums amid an ongoing pandemic.
States across the country have relaxed coronavirus-related restrictions, and as a result, the number of confirmed cases are rising once again. The World Health Organization has confirmed more than 2.2 million cases and 119,761 deaths connected to the disease in the United States.
Kaplan also explained how the lack of a uniform approach could create a scenario in which some teams have a competitive and financial advantage.
He reported the NFL’s stadium reopening task force may announce its recommendations as early as next week or in early July.