It remains to be seen how things will pan out in terms of fans turning out for NFL games over the coming season. The COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing after shutting down all sports for some time in 2020.
Fans aren’t allowed to return with their teams but things have improved significantly in that aspect and commissioner Roger Goodell said the stadium should return to full-capacity hosting in 2021/22. The league could welcome a reasonable number of fans to the Super Bowl in February but aims for a return to normal, or at least something similar, next season.
Goodell made the announcement back in May and that should be very welcome news as many teams go entire seasons without fans, while others are operating at a limited capacity, adhering to local and state guidelines. Fans in the stands are required to wear masks and keep their distance. Raymond James Stadium, which hosted the Super Bowl, was not filled as usual for the usual championship game. Instead, there are fans scattered amongst the numerous pieces of cardboard.
The league managed to get a total of 1.2 million fans in stadiums so far in 2020 – not bad considering the circumstances – but the aim is to fill all stadiums for each game next season.
According to Judy Battista of NFL Media, the commissioner revealed that he has been spending plenty of time discussing vaccines, amongst other important aspects of the NFL’s approaching return.
“Goodell said they spent a lot of time today talking about vaccines, especially education for all personnel — players, coaches, staff — to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” he tweeted.
The league chief’s tone is alleged to be quite upbeat ahead of the start of the inbound campaign. The hope is that fans in general can enjoy diverse sporting events throughout the country as usual because of efforts to vaccinate as many people as possible.
Of course, there’s still plenty of work to be done with regards to administering a COVID-19 vaccine, but there’s still plenty of time left between now and the start weekend. The NFL, like the NBA, is doing an incredible job testing, distancing and quarantining athletes who have contracted the virus. The aforementioned leagues set an example for sporting bodies, with the NBA heading for the bubble to finish the 2019/20 season and then returning to the arena for the continuous campaign. While a number of high-profile athletes have suffered serious injuries over the course of the season, COVID-19 has not been as difficult as one might expect with regards to professional basketball in America.
The NFL will look to take a major role in the event that sports return to normalcy. Goodell’s vision for a full-capacity stadium may not come true this year, but it is absolutely possible. However, fans will be capable to take advantage of NFL odds because the game will take place.
All 32 NFL teams have been given the green light to welcome full crowds for next season’s home games. 30 teams received approval from local authorities at the end of last month but the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts need much longer. The Broncos got their license earlier this month and the Colts got theirs this Tuesday. The team’s Lucas Oil Stadium had fans attending games in a limited capacity last season.
“The Indianapolis Colts have been approved to host full-capacity games at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 2021 season, team officials said today,” the team said. announced on Tuesday. “Normal capacity for Colts home games at the stadium is 63,000.
“The decision follows extensive consultation with the Marion County (Ind.) Department of Public Health (MCPHD), which this week approved full capacity play to start the season.
“As COVID-19 continues to affect the city and state, the club will continue to be vigilant to keep fans safe and healthy, but most in-stadium protocols from last season will be relaxed or eliminated.”
Colts owner Jim Irsay said he was excited and hoped to see a full stadium again.
“We’ve been fortunate to host fans in 2020 through the pandemic, and those fans are as loud and proud as ever,” he wrote in an announcement. “But game days at Lucas Oil Stadium are like family reunions, and it just would not be the same without the entire Colts family with us. So we cannot wait to open the stadium doors to all of our fans so they can take this journey with us as we work to bring the Super Bowl title back to Indianapolis.”
The Colts have also announced plans to have fans at their summer training camp in Westfield, Indiana. No fans were present at the final camp which was held in Indianapolis.