The NFL plans to fully open its stadiums for the 2021 season, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday.
After the first day of a two-day virtual owners’ meeting, Goodell told reporters, “All of us in the NFL want to see each of our fans again. Football is just not the same without fans, and we expect it to be.” have full stadiums in the coming season. “
Part of that expectation is based on factors beyond the control of the NFL. The league did not set a maximum attendance limit during the game at the heart of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, instead putting individual teams on hold in conjunction with state and local regulations. Visitor numbers were down more than 90% compared to 2019, and a total of 1.2 million fans were included in the attendance for the full regular season and postseason. The league’s income decreased accordingly.
In some cases, the NFL must require local communities to sign attendance plans to fully open their stadiums for 2021. Vaccination rates could also play a role. A total of 18 NFL stadiums are used as mass vaccination sites, and to date, 1.5 million shots have been administered at these locations, according to the league.
Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, said last week the league would encourage, but not require, vaccination of players, coaches and staff. The league and the NFL Players Association continue to negotiate the terms of the offseason program, which the league announced the teams would begin on April 19. The NFLPA is advocating a fully virtual offseason, much like the league in 2020, while the owners want players back in the team facilities for traditional mini-camps and OTAs.