The Pittsburgh Steelers to the best of my knowledge there the first, and to date only, team in the NFL to take any preliminary precautions regarding ticket sales in preparation for what might come down the line, agreeing to make only 50 percent of their tickets available at this current time in the event that attendance will be limited due to social distancing restrictions being required.
This is, I believe, more of a business approach than anything else. It’s easier to sell more tickets later than it is to have to take them back after already selling them and issuing refunds. And this strategy does not reflect their plans, nor the league’s plans, for the upcoming 2020 season.
That’s something vice president of football operations Troy Vincent confirmed last week, according to NBC Sports, via a radio interview on The Team 980. “We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise”, he said.
“Now remember when we’re talking — we’re talking about September, August, September. So there’s a lot that can happen here. So we’re planning for full stadiums”, he went on. “We also know that we have to plan for half stadiums. Three-quarters. So we’re planning for all of these different scenarios. But first and foremost, we’re making every effort, working with the medical community, if we can have those stadiums with all people until they tell us otherwise when that time comes, that’s our plan. That’s our plan of action”.
Really, this doesn’t in any way deviate from what we understood, or at least assumed, would be the case. Currently, there is no compelling reason to believe it’s not in the realm of possibility that games will be able to be full attended a couple of months from now, but it is also with the understanding that further developments are required for that to happen.
Recently, the league began to allow teams to reopen their facilities, provided that they had the governmental go-ahead to do so in their area. Of course, it is a highly limited opening that excludes players and coaches, for the time being, at the very least until all 32 facilities are permitted to reopen.
Nevertheless, it remains unlikely that there will be any on-field activity before training camp at the earliest, which means no mandatory minicamps in June. Right now, OTAs should be commencing, and they are—virtually.
But you can’t play games virtually, although you can attend them virtually. In the event that the NFL does have to restrict attendance, I can’t help but wonder if there’s even anything they could do, if they wanted, to enable fans to watch games live over the internet, on GamePass for example.