It will be up to individual NFL franchises and the localities in which they reside to decide on attendance capacity for the 2020 season, according to a report published Tuesday The Athletic. Rather than a leaguewide mandate, the level of in-person attendance will vary by market.
“Attendance will be a state-by-state, county-by-county thing,” a source told the publication. “It will not be a one size fits all.”
Given the varying levels of reopening currently in place across the country (and likely to remain in place and in flux for the foreseeable future), this means that some franchises may be playing in front of full stadiums, while others play in half-full buildings and others no fans at all, depending on where things stand relative to the public health situation in their state.
I’m shocked by that,” Eventellect’s Patrick Ryan told The Athletic. “Because I think you’ll see some markets like let’s just say Jacksonville where they’re like, ‘Fine, you can have 100 percent attendance.’ And then like, LA is like 15 percent attendance.”
Teams have already begun to take a patchwork approach to addressing the unknown relative to fan attendance for the coming season. New England, for example, told season ticket members that they would be welcome to suspend their membership without penalty for the season if they are at risk for serious illness due to underlying health conditions that have been shown to greatly exacerbate coronavirus outcomes. The New York Giants made a similar announcement earlier this week. And Pittsburgh has announced it will only sell half of its single-game seats in anticipation of the possibility for a need to keep fans socially distant on gamedays, depending on New Jersey regulations in place.
Undoubtedly the various levels of attendance will be decided much closer to the start of the season, as the state-by-state response to the coronavirus is in a continual evolution and will remain so until the pandemic subsides or a viable treatment or vaccine is found.
Demand for NFL tickets was strong when the schedule was announced this spring, with fans ponying up to see their favorite teams despite the Covid-19 concerns, particularly in Las Vegas and Tampa Bay.