In terms of normality during the 2020 season, at this point one can only hope that the biggest thing that is abnormal is watching a number of games taking place in an empty stadium. By and large, most of the rest of the season should look as it always has, outside of the wearing of facemasks by personnel on the sidelines.
As the regular season is set to get underway a week from today, most teams in the league will at least start things off without fans in the stands, but most are at least holding out hope that at some point down the line they will be permitted to host a limited number of them.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are within that group. Last week, they announced that they would not be admitting fans for at least the first two home games of the regular season. President Art Rooney II confirmed yesterday that as of this point, they have no guidance as to what will take place after that.
But one thing that he did make clear today is that the game is about the fans. Without fans, there is no NFL. Many teams who are permitted to host a limited number of fans are choosing to do so even though doing so is not profitable when offset by the additional costs of running the parts of the stadium that would otherwise be closed. He seemed to suggest Heinz Field would welcome the opportunity to do the same down the line.
“I think it comes down to, that’s what we’re here for”, he said earlier today on Steelers Nation Radio. “That’s who we’re here for, for our fans. We’ll play the games without fans, but it just won’t feel right, and we’ll have to adjust, and I’m sure the players will adjust, but there’s no question that it won’t feel right not having fans in the stadium”.
“That’s kind of the whole point of things”, he continued. “We’re playing these games for our fans and trying to win another championship for the city of Pittsburgh. It’ll be a different journey this year, but like everything else, we’re trying to adjust and make the best of it”.
Of course, teams are also slated to suffer significant financial losses from the absence of in-stadium revenue this season, so that is an obvious motivating factor behind their wanting to be able to host full-capacity games.
What it primarily comes down to is how the fans behave. It’s not so much about everybody sitting in their seats while they’re watching the games, but rather when they’re inside, congregating in restrooms and in lines for food and drink.
As said, there will be some teams who will begin the season with some fans in attendance. Perhaps if things go well in these venues, that will encourage leaders in other areas to permit the teams in their state to host fans as well, under certain guidance.