While other professional sports leagues continue to be shut down over coronavirus, the NFL is planning on beginning its 2020 season on time and before packed stadiums.
Executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said Friday that the league is preparing “to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise,” according to an NBC Sports report.
“Now remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about August, September. So there’s a lot that can happen here. So we’re planning for full stadiums,” he added.
The NFL official’s remarks come as most states in the U.S. (and countries abroad) are beginning to reopen their communities and economies after being nearly shut down for months in an effort to “bend” the coronavirus infection curve.
No doubt the news will be welcomed by football fans, though Vincent did sound a cautionary note as well.
He said while the objective is to play games before packed stadiums, the league is also preparing to make adjustments to capacities allowed in game venues, which could still vary by the time the August pre-season arrives, depending on state governors.
“We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums, three-quarters. So we’re planning for all of these different scenarios. But first and foremost, we’re making every effort, working with the medical community, if we can have those stadiums with all people until they tell us otherwise when that time comes, that’s our plan. That’s our plan of action,” he said.
Of all the professional sports leagues in the U.S., the NFL has been impacted the least. That’s because the COVID-19 outbreak didn’t really begin to impact our country until late February, after the Super Bowl Feb. 2, when the Kansas City Chiefs came from behind to beat the favored San Francisco 49ers to win their first national championship since a 1969 win against the Minnesota Vikings.
So far, the only real impact on the league has been a virtual draft after having to cancel the regular April in-person event that was going to be held in Las Vegas.
And last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell gave all 32 teams the green light to begin limiting reopenings of their training facilities as long as state and local governments permitted it as well.
A number of teams have not yet made the decision to reopening for the time being, while others don’t have the option yet to do so because of state orders.
Still, as Vincent noted, August is a long way away given the rapid changes seen just over the past two weeks in terms of states and cities reopening for business.