The NFL as a whole stands to lose $5.5 billion in revenue simply from holding the 2020 season without fans in attendance. On an individual basis, all but three franchises stand to lose over $100,000 playing in front of empty seats. Several will lose twice that amount or more.
In other words, the league, and every single team, is very motivated to do everything in its power to open up games this Autumn that fans can actually attend, so if it comes to pass that they hold games with no fans in attendance, you can be assured that this was a last resort on their part to ensure that they can play the games at all.
Business owners like to make money, after all, and sometimes it seems as though they do everything in their power to make money. Unless you enjoy drinking $10 cups of Coors Light to pair with an $8 plain hot dog.
Nobody knows right now what the games will look like once they’re ready to play. Maybe there will be fans. Maybe there won’t be fans. Maybe attendance will be restricted to ensure that those in the stadium are sitting apart from one another (but you can assured they will still find ways to start fights with one another).
As much as fans might be frustrated over the possibility of not being able to attend games in person later this year—again, something which is far from definite right now—it also affects the players, and some are less happy about that possibility than others, such as the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald.
“You need fans to play a game”, he told reporters earlier this week, via Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. “I don’t see how you could play a game without no fans. I feel like that takes out the excitement and the fun out of the game”.
Donald, who is already a two-time winner of the Defensive Player of the Year Award and widely regarded as the best defensive player in the NFL today, is a voice that carries weight—and he also happens to be a Pitt product, playing his college games at Heinz Field.
“I feel like the fans is what pick you up”, he went on. “The fans is what makes the game exciting. The fans will give you that extra juice when you’re tired and fatigued, when you make that big play and you hear 80,000 fans going crazy. That just pumps you up”.
That may be true, but if there are no fans, then there are no fans. You still have to play. I’m sure the league is looking into every possibility, which surely includes experimenting with artificial crowd noise and music to try to replicate an in-stadium atmosphere. They did it for the draft, why wouldn’t they do it for the games? Nothing matches the real thing, but sometimes there are no alternatives.