Currently, it is unknown if the NFL will allow spectators in the stands during the 2020 football season. With the novel coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, some feel as though it’s too soon to make a determination about seating. Many teams have already announced their own plans for reduced capacity of seating, however.
At least four teams, including the Chiefs and the Falcons, will not have their normal seating capacity. Instead, many teams are reworking their seating plans and enacting sweeping changes for acquiring tickets this season. People who have already purchased tickets are either being refunded, or having their tickets applied as a credit for next season.
When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March, many people had hoped it would simply blow over by the end of the summer. However, the US’s response to the virus fumbled in many areas, including reopening too soon and not implementing a nationwide mask policy. Now, unlike other developed countries in Europe and Asia, the US is still struggling with huge case numbers.
The US is seeing numbers more akin to Brazil and Russia, developing countries run by autocrats who didn’t take the pandemic seriously. This means that the virus is far from done with the US. In fact, daily active cases are higher than ever in the US right now. Things are worse off than when lockdowns were first initiated in March. This has led to a situation in flux, where it seems uncertain if the NFL will allow any fans in stands going into the Fall season.
Reduced seating capacity is one proposed solution that could allow fans in the stands even during a pandemic. However, some experts fear that allowing fans in at all could make the worst of a bad situation. After all, it’s not feasible for venues to test everyone coming in for COVID. Even the most stringent of social distancing protocols can be ignored by rowdy fans.
And, at the end of the day, fans visiting a football stadium are going to want to eat and drink. These activities can’t be performed with a mask over one’s face. Thus, it seems unlikely that mask guidelines will be followed to the letter.
What is certain, of course, is that there will be a football season, one way or another. The NFL isn’t about to forego the billions of dollars in advertising revenue they rake in every year.