The Washington Football Team became the latest NFL franchise to inform fans it would not be able to allow them to see games in person, informing season ticket holders Wednesday. Officials say that the decision, made in concert with Maryland and Prince George’s County officials, can be revisited later in the year if COVID-19 conditions improve.
“We are fortunate to host the best fans in the NFL year after year, but the well-being of those supporters, along with that of our players, coaches and each and every member of our gameday staff is simply too important, and the current knowledge of COVID-19 too unpredictable, to welcome our fan base to FedExField to start the season,” said Washington Football Team owner Dan Snyder. “We were the first team in the league to recall our scouts and other personnel from the field back in mid-March and have been monitoring this evolving situation ever since. This decision was not an easy one, but after several discussions with federal, state and local officials – along with input from some of the nation’s foremost medical experts, based right here in the nation’s capital – we are confident that it is the right one. We are working to find ways to make our fans’ presence felt in new and innovative ways for 2020 and can’t wait to welcome the community through the gates as soon as it’s safe.”
Washington, which pivoted away from its prior “mascot” designation after outcry earlier this off-season, joined several other franchises in plans to start the season with no fans in the stands, largely due to government-imposed restrictions on large events due to the pandemic. Green Bay will play at least its first two games with no fans at Lambeau Field, with the New Orleans Saints playing at least one home game to start the year in an empty building. New Jersey-based Jets and Giants will not have fans until Governor Phil Murphy decides that more than 500 can attend any events in New Jersey, while the Las Vegas Raiders have announced they will open their brand new stadium with no fans for the full season.
Numerous other NFL franchises have announced plans for greatly reduced capacity in 2020, but have not yet finalized capacity or ticket distribution plans.