The COVID-19 pandemic, which is still ongoing, has changed the way the United States and the world thinks and acts in many ways.  On February 7, 2021, down in Tampa, Florida, Super Bowl LV will take place between the winners of the AFC and NFC before a crowd whose size will be dictated by the status of the coronavirus at that time.  The NFL has managed to keep the season alive despite the global pandemic, but it hasn’t been easy.

The Next Super Bowl Will Appear Much Different

The NFL had originally planned for a full house as usually seen at Super Bowls.  Now, that number has dropped to 20%, but there are hints that it may increase, depending on where we are in 2021.  Raymond James Stadium, the home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, normally holds 65,000 fans.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said via a spokesperson, “There is no set seating capacity at this time,” adding, “Among the scenarios we are exploring is a capacity of around 20%, but we anticipate it could grow as we get closer to the game.”

If only 13,000 tickets are sold, at say $100 per ticket, that leaves over $5 million on the table, not to mention the food, drinks and souvenir concessions whose sales will be minimal.  Those numbers have got to be on a lot of people’s minds between now and February 7, 2021.

COVID-19 Is Making Things Difficult

So far this NFL season, the Buccaneers have played two home games, and only allowed 16,383 fans to enter the stadium for the Chargers game and almost 15.500 for the game against the Green Bay Packers.  In fact, 16 of the 32 clubs in the NFL have hosted home games with fans in attendance.  Of course, mandatory protocols are in place at any of these games so long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.

Proper masks will be required as well as an attempt at social distancing once the fans are inside the stadium.  Families, groups or “pods” will be allowed to sit together so long as they distance themselves from others by the required six feet.  With everyone up and shouting encouragement and cheering on a great play, it still makes for a dangerous, if not ‘super-spreader’ situation.

With the pandemic already causing some regular season NFL games to be postponed, it will probably come to pass that the traditional bye week between the conference championship and the Super Bowl be canceled to accommodate making up the postponed games.  The date of February 7, 2021, for the Super Bowl will not be changed according to reports from ESPN.

There’s Still A Lot Of Work Ahead Of The Super Bowl

Going into November the NFL teams that seem likely to be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LV include the 6-0 Pittsburg Steelers.  Ben Roethlisberger and company are still undefeated going into Week 8, but they have a big game this Sunday when they visit the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens as four-point underdogs.  There are also the 6-1 Kansas City Chiefs, who will host the hapless New York Jets, where oddsmakers are giving the Jets 19.5 points against the powerhouse of quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Also in contention for Super Bowl LV are the Tennessee Titans, the Los Angeles Rams, the Buffalo Bills, the Green Bay Packers, the Baltimore Ravens, the Seattle Seahawks, the Chicago Bears, Tom Brady’s Bucs and, believe it or not, the Cleveland Browns, led by a determined Baker Mayfield.  All of these teams have five wins each.  Their chances for being in the big game this year depends on whether they can keep winning football games.

Originally, Super Bowl LV was set for the beautiful new SoFi Stadium located on the site of the historic Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, CA; however, construction delays caused the NFL owners to vote unanimously to move the event to Tampa Bay.  SoFi Stadium will now host Super Bowl LVI in 2022.