NFL Stadiums
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs stand for a video presentation before Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium. Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports

NFL Stadiums Plan For Full Attendance During The 2021 Season

As COVID-19 safety restrictions are lifting in county and state guidelines, the NFL plans to have fans at full stadium capacity during the 2021-2022 season. The NFL announced 30 out of the 32 teams have been approved to have fans at full capacity. The two teams still waiting to receive approval from the county and state are the Denver Broncos and the Indianapolis Colts. Although the county and state are allowing NFL stadiums to operate at full capacity, is it safe and smart to have over 60,000 fans cheering at NFL games this upcoming season?

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In March, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said:

“We’re also discussing our plans to welcome back all of our fans for the 2021 season across the country at all NFL stadiums. As you know, we had 1.2 million fans safely attend games last year. All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back. Football is simply not the same without our fans, and we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season.”

The NFL doesn’t know whether fans contracted COVID-19 while attending an NFL game last season. There isn’t enough contact tracing to know that “1.2 million fans safely attended games” and didn’t contract the virus after. During Super Bowl 55, there were 25,000 fans in attendance. Some fans who attended the game placed their masks under their mouth to cheer when I’m sure they were advised to keep their masks on at all times aside from eating and drinking.

While many fans miss attending games and feeling the electric energy NFL games provide, it isn’t the best move for NFL teams to operate at full capacity. While the NBA is moving forward with increasing to full capacity of fans, their stadiums hold between 16,000 to 2,000 fans. The NFL’s lowest full capacity of fans is held at Soldier Field, which is the Chicago Bears’ stadium at 61,500. The highest capacity of fans is held at MetLife Stadium, with 82,500. With 30 other NFL team’s full capacity of fans falling between 61,000 and 82,000, COVID-19 can spread like wildfire whether fans are vaccinated or not while sitting right next to each other.

In May, the New York Yankees, who are vaccinated, had a COVID-19 outbreak between their players, coaches, and staff. While only a few showed symptoms, most were asymptomatic. This situation alone proves even if NFL teams make it mandatory for fans to be vaccinated, sitting close to one another for hours can make the virus spread easily.

Only a handful have NFL teams have posted a generic statement about how the organization is excited to have fans in attendance and will look into safety precautions before the 2021 season starts. A few teams, such as the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, have posted similar statements about how they even encourage their community to get vaccinated. But many teams haven’t come out with an official statement about what this means in regards to their home season games which means teams are a bit hesitant to reveal their fan capacity and safety guidelines for this upcoming season.

Fans of all NFL teams should be allowed to attend NFL games this season, but there should be a limit placed by each team on how many people can sit in each section and how many fans the stadium should have during each game. This will enforce social distancing between fans to lower the chance of spreading the virus while still allowing the stadium to hold more fans than last season.

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