Which stadiums will have fans during the NFL’s first month?
Many aspects of the NFL will look strange this season. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will take the field in Buccaneer red. Owners will not only support players’ peaceful social justice protests, some will join in. But perhaps the starkest difference between this year, and well, any year will be the stadium optics.
Some stadiums will be complete ghost towns with COVID-19 concerns and local authorities deeming any fan attendance unsafe. A smattering will have fans but at reduced capacity. The absence of the proverbial 12th man (ahem, man AND woman) completely alters the gameday experience. The lack of consistency in attendance policy is also a stunning move for an NFL that prides itself on uniformity.
The big brother arm of the league – the competition committee – is so rooted in preserving fairness that any player is subject to a fine if his socks aren’t pulled up the exact portion of his calf as other players. The fact that this committee is fine with some teams having an actual home-field advantage while most have none is just plain stupid. Be it as it may, here’s a snapshot of the teams that will have some semblance of fans in the stands to start the season.
- Kansas City: The Chiefs are allowing 22% capacity at Arrowhead which exacts to approximately 16,811 fans. They will also have socially-distanced tailgates. Kansas City is home Week 1 (vs. Houston) and Week 4 (vs. New England)
- Dallas: The Cowboys are allowing fans and will be implementing pods. They will also mimic Kansas City in allowing socially-distanced tailgating. The state of Texas is currently allowing 50% capacity at sports venues though the exact number of fans that will be allowed at Cowboys games is still unknown. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has implied as hefty number as possible. “I think it’s important individually. I think it’s important for the country,” Jones told reporters in August. Dallas is home Week 2 (vs. Falcons) and Week 4 (vs. Browns) to start the season.
- Jacksonville: The Jaguars were one of the first teams to announce an intention to have fans. Back in July the team announced plans to operate at 25% capacity which works out to approximately 16,791 fans. Jacksonville is home Week 1 (vs. Indianapolis) and Week 3 (vs. Miami) to start the season.
- Cincinnati: While the Bengals will open the season at home (vs. Los Angeles Chargers) with no fans, the team was granted a variance to host 6000 for their Week 4 game (vs. Jacksonville) and Week 7 game (vs. Cleveland).
- Cleveland: Like the Bengals, the Browns were also issued a two-game variance that allows 10% – approximately 1500 fans for each of the stadium’s four bowls. Cleveland will have fans for its first home game on Thursday night of Week 2 (vs. Cincinnati), followed by a Week 3 bout against the Washington Football Team.
- Indianapolis: After discussions with local health officials, the Colts announced they would have a maximum attendance of 2500 at their Week 2 home opener vs. Minnesota. The team had hoped to fill to 25% capacity.
- Miami: The Dolphins will host a capacity of 13,000 fans for its Week 2 home opener vs. Buffalo.