‘The Iggles’ all set to have a (field) day



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NFL update October 2020 with fans back Image: reddit.com (nydronepilot)

Events With Fans’ or ‘Events Without Fans’ – this has been the debate in the sports venue sector since COVID-19 struck the world in March this year and have taken all and sundry for a rollercoaster ride.

With COVID teeter-totter on, either fans are being allowed at reduced capacity in stadia or fixtures are being held without fans’ attendance.

As far as the National Football League (NFL) is concerned, few of the teams are allowing supporters in, while the rest have gone ahead without onlookers.

The Philadelphia Eagles are set to become the latest NFL team to have fans back in their venue – Lincoln Financial Field, while the New Orleans Saints have held talks with Louisiana State University (LSU) over holding games at the Tiger Stadium.

The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia, US. The Eagles compete in the NFL as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference East division.

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

Tiger Stadium, popularly known as Death Valley, is an outdoor stadium located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on the campus of Louisiana State University in US. It is the home stadium of the LSU Tigers football team.

As per NFL prescription, and as guidelines laid out by the public health experts, and with the nod of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, the Eagles have finalized plans that will lead to a limited capacity of fans returning to their home venue – the 69,176-capacity Lincoln Financial Field, starting from Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Only 7,500 fans will be allowed inside the facility, which includes players, coaches, team and stadium personnel, media, and fans.

The Pittsburgh Steelers last week notified season ticket holders who had previously opted into attending home games if possible during the 2020 season that the team would be welcoming approximately 5,500 fans for each of the two games at the 68,400-capacity Heinz Field at Pennsylvania (US) in October.

The Steelers hosted the Eagles in front of 4,708 fans recently. The move was made possible after Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the State would alter venue gathering limits. A sliding scale has been introduced limiting attendance to 3,750 for the largest indoor spaces and 7,500 for the largest outdoor venues. However, the City of Philadelphia had to greenlight the move before the Eagles could follow their footsteps, a decision that was arrived at on Tuesday.

Ticket sales for the October 23rd night’s game against the New York Giants has begun for Season Ticket Members who opted into the 2020 season. Tickets will be sold in groups with the ability to purchase as many as six tickets in the same seating pod. Any remaining tickets for the Ravens and Giants games will go on sale to the general public at a later date.

“We have been working very closely with State and local officials, public health experts, and the National Football League on a number of scenarios to safely bring Eagles fans back to the Lincoln Financial Field,” claimed Eagles President Don Smolenski.

“After many thoughtful and active discussions, we are thrilled to announce that the fan experience will return to Lincoln Financial Field on October 18th. On behalf of the Philadelphia Eagles, I would like to thank Governor Wolf, Mayor Kenney, and their respective representatives for the support and guidance over these past few months. We will all continue to stay in close communication and will be prepared to adjust and adapt as needed,” Smolenski added.

As part of this work and preparation in recent months, the Eagles and Lincoln Financial Field was bestowed Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation for implementing the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention.

Meanwhile, with COVID-19 coming in the way of New Orleans Saints hosting fans at their home arena – Mercedes-Benz Superdome – the team recently met with Louisiana State University (LSU) authorities to discuss staging games at the 102,321-capacity Tiger Stadium with onlookers in the stands.

If talks are fruitful, it could result in around 21,000 Saints fans gracing the stands at Tiger Stadium for the next home game against the Carolina Panthers on October 25th. While 15 of the NFL’s 32 teams are now hosting games with fans in their stadia, the Saints have been forced to play sans fans due to New Orleans strict COVID-19 regulations in place.

Saints Head of Communications Greg Bensel told mediapersons that while the team wants to remain at their stadium, talks have commenced with Louisiana State University because “there has been no indication from the City when, or if” the Saints proposal to return fans to the Superdome will be given the green light.

“The Louisiana State University has been gracious and enthusiastic regarding hosting our future games and we very much appreciate their partnership,” Bensel added.

The City of New Orleans is still discussing the Saints’ request to have 25 percent capacity at the Superdome for the Panthers game.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said in a statement, “While the Saints’ request for a special exception to the City’s COVID-19 guidelines remains under consideration, allowing 20K people in an indoor space presents significant public health concerns.”

“At present, no NFL stadium in the country with a fixed-roof facility is allowing such an exception. We will continue to monitor the public health data, but cannot set an artificial timeline for how and when conditions may allow for the kind of special exemption being requested,” Cantrell added.

If the Saints do move to Tiger Stadium, the games will be their first outside New Orleans since 2005-06, when damage to the Superdome from Hurricane Katrina sent the team to San Antonio in Texas (US) and Baton Rouge in Louisiana (US).

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