Although the NFL is still planning to open the season on time with fans in stadiums, the COVID-19 situation in some states is trending in the wrong direction.
One of those states is Florida, and Miami Dolphins chief executive officer Tom Garfinkel acknowledged that for some fans, it simply won’t be safe to be in large crowds when the season starts. But Garfinkel believes that the stadium won’t be completely empty.
“We will be going to our fans saying if you are in any way at risk we don’t think you should come, assuming we are going to be playing with some level of fans — which at this point may or may not happen,” he said, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “It’s very uncertain. I am optimistic we will play with some fans and am hopeful about that. Assuming that’s the case, we will recommend to fans who are any way at risk not to come. Our season-ticket holders can roll over money into next year. They will be able to roll over and keep their tenure.”
Garfinkel said the Dolphins have “a no-fans scenario, a socially distanced stadium scenario, which would be roughly 15,000 to 20,000 fans and then maybe half-capacity scenario. We have all of those scenarios with a lot of details for each, different budgets for each. Things are changing daily. A few weeks ago, things were looking great and [the] last few weeks things have changed.”
No NFL teams will be playing at full capacity, as every team is going to block off the front few rows to keep players and fans from getting too close. But whether stadiums will otherwise be mostly full, mostly empty or totally empty remains to be seen. At this point, teams are still hoping they can make it happen with fans in attendance.