NFL hoping for packed to capacity stadiums


LA Rams SoFi Stadium May 2020 Image: LA Rams

The National Football League (NFL) is still aiming to have packed to capacity stadiums during its upcoming 2020 season, despite several other sports entities proceeding with games in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus scourge. However, a lot of uncertainty surrounds the 2020 NFL season.

The National Football League is a professional American football league comprising 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference.

Troy Vincent, the league’s Executive Vice-President of Football Operations, told mediapersons that “we are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise”.

“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,” Vincent observed.

“We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums. Three-quarters. So, we’re planning for all those 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,” Vincent added.

While the NFL currently expects full stadiums, Vincent made it clear that they won’t force the issue. If the medical community determines it’s not safe to have a large group of people gathered together in a stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic, the league will listen. Vincent admits the league already has separate plans in case stadiums can only be half full.

It is still not clear whether fans will be allowed to attend NFL games at all. A number of States are not open to the idea of mass gatherings. Many of those recommendations involve very small groups than what is expected in a football game. It’s possible the scenario might be different by the time the season kicks off, but nothing is clear right now.

At least one NFL team is being cautious regarding ticket sales. The Pittsburgh Steelers are making 50 percent of their tickets available to fans just in case social distancing restrictions remain in place in August.

Being cautious is the best proposition looking at how the fatal respiratory disease is leaving a trail of deaths world over. While the NFL expects full stadiums in 2020, the league also has contingency plans in place in case the same doesn’t materialize.

In the first part of May, the NFL released its 2020 game schedule. But, the league is treading cautiously amid the public health crisis triggered by the pandemic. League Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the NFL “will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary”.

Recently, the NFL went in for a first phase of staged reopening plan – essential team staffers can now get entry to the team facilities in States where local Governments also give the green light.

“This first phase of reopening plan is an important step in demonstrating our ability to operate safely and effectively, even in the current environment,” Goodell maintained.

SoFi Stadium to open on August 14

SoFi Stadium, the new home ground of NFL teams Los Angeles Rams and Chargers, will stage its first official event on August 14 when the Rams host the New Orleans Saints in pre-season.

SoFi Stadium is a stadium and entertainment complex under construction in Inglewood, California, in United States.

The Los Angeles Rams are a professional American football team based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Rams compete in the NFL as a member club of the National Football Conference (NFC) West division. The Los Angeles Chargers are a professional American football team also based in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The Chargers compete in the NFL as a member club of the league’s American Football Conference West division.

The New Orleans Saints are a professional American football team based in New Orleans. The Saints compete in the NFL as a member of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) South division.

The new home of the Rams and Chargers had originally been due to open on July 25-26 with two Taylor Swift concerts but these were canceled due to COVID-19. Further concerts from Guns N’ Roses on August 8 and Tim McGraw on September 4 have also been canceled because of the unprecedented health crisis arising due to COVID-19.

The Rams have now confirmed their pre-season schedule will kick off with a game against the Saints on August 14. The Rams will play at the 70,000-seat SoFi Stadium for the first three weeks of the pre-season before heading to Las Vegas to play the Raiders at the new Allegiant Stadium.

The Rams will technically be visitors at SoFi Stadium on August 22 when facing off against the Chargers, their fellow tenants at the new venue. The Rams will then host the Denver Broncos on August 29 before heading to Allegiant Stadium on September 3.

Allegiant Stadium is a domed stadium under construction, located in Paradise, Nevada, United States. It will serve as the home arena for the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels college football team.

Due to the fluid scenario created due to coronavirus, the possibility remains high that games will be played without spectators or abandoned completely, in which case any tickets purchased directly from the Rams or through Ticketmaster will be refunded within 30 days.

Recently, NFL owners voted unanimously to provide Rams owner Stan Kroenke with an additional $500m (£408m/€454m) in financing to help complete the SoFi Stadium. The budget of the stadium is now said to have risen from an initially projected $2.2bn to between $5bn and $6bn.

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