NFL teams have divided opinions concerning having fans or no fans in the stadiums during the upcoming season.  The New England Patriots are one of the teams that is seeking to explore “pods” to have an audience during games at Gillette Stadium, while other teams have already stated that they won’t allow attendance, at least at the beginning, because of the coronavirus.

However, according to Yahoo’s Charles Robinson, the Pats, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys want to allow their fans to watch the games in their home stadiums.

COVID-19 Kicks NFL Fans Out Of The Stands

Robinson reported on Wednesday, “The goal is moving toward finding clusters of people who have made a decision to cluster together (while masking up), then distance the clusters from one another in stadium.  He added, “And I’ve been told it’s the system that appears to have most traction across the league for the teams that hope to include fan attendance.” It seems this is becoming a trend for NFL teams that want to have audience, but, at the same time, it can turn out to be very risky.

The Patriots stated in July that they would limit the capacity of their stadium to 20% in case state and local officials permit fans to enter games this coming fall.  Fans who attend the games will be required to wear a mask, and/or the use of the pods is seen as an additional measure that could allow more fans to attend the NFL games, rather than have no fans.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones expects his team to have fans in the stadium this season, despite the coronavirus threat.  The team will only allow up to 50% of its normal capacity for the games.  Jones said, “I’m confident that we have a very educated situation and that our fans can come and have a safe experience at our stadium, along with, of course, our players having the safety they’re required on the football field.”

If the decision is approved, the team can use their normal home, the AT&T Stadium, which is equipped with 80,000 seats and space for 105,000 with standing capacity, and it has plenty of space to allow social distancing.  Jones is not sure about the number of spectators they would receive.

According to Jones, having football is important for the country, as is having fans because football defines the US as a great nation.  He also said, “The NFL can be an… inspirational part of how we address COVID, not only the remainder of this year but as we go into ’21.”

The Steelers And The Saints Turn People Away

The Pittsburgh Steelers are already refunding tickets to fans because they will have no fans at the NFL games at Heinz Field.  In the beginning, the team had allowed a reduced amount of tickets to be sold for the coming season, but has now decided to reverse course.  At this point, we don’t know what the 2020 season is going to look like, and we’re less than a month away from the start.

Most likely, the majority of the teams won’t permit fans into their stadiums in order to comply with the safety protocols established to protect players, coaches, staffers and fans from COVID-19.  MLB, the NHL and the NBA are playing their seasons without audiences, and things seem to be working fairly well.

The New Orleans Saints have made the same decision.  They won’t permit fans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for Week 1’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  The Saints stated today their denial of allowing an audience at the stadiums for the first game after holding a discussion with health officials, but they still need to make a decision about their second home game against the Green Bay Packers on September 27.