As restrictions on in-person attendance at events continue to be rolled back, the NFL informed its teams that most of its stadiums already have approval for full capacity crowds when its season begins in September. Additionally, teams will be permitted to allow fans to attend training camps over the summer, as long as local public health guidelines allow it.
Sales have been brisk for the upcoming season after a 2020 campaign that saw dramatically reduced attendance across the board due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most franchises were allowed to host a small fraction of usual stadium capacity, with mask mandates and social distancing in place. A few weren’t allowed to host any fans at all on the year, with the Super Bowl being played in front of a far-below capacity crowd, despite being a first-ever home game for the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to ESPN, the league told its franchises that all but two teams have received approval from local authorities to open at full capacity this year, as vaccination efforts continue and case and hospitalization data supports a full scale reopening in the U.S.
Beyond those that alerady have approval, the league “feels good about the path” for Indianapolis and Denver, who are still working with local authorities on final approval.
Training camp is scheduled to open for most teams on July 27, with Dallas, Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay allowed to open slightly earlier due to participation in the NFL Hall of Fame preseason game or the regular season kickoff on September 9.
“It won’t likely look exactly the same as a normal training camp as far as proximity to players and autographs and some of the other things,” says Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events, “But we’re excited to be able to communicate that fans will be able to enjoy an accessible part of the calendar.”
In the initial stages of tickets being on sale for the upcoming season, some trends on hot tickets have become clear. Tampa Bay, which brings back Tom Brady and hopes to successfully defend the Lombardi Trophy, is a favorite, as are home games for the Las Vegas Raiders in their new home of Allegiant Stadium, which will finally see full capacity fans at concerts over the summer before the team opens its season. Dallas is also a perennial fan favorite.
Tampa Bay will host the season opener on September 9, taking on the Dallas Cowboys.