One of the big questions this off-season has been what the how the NFL will react to COVID even before the second wave hit in recent weeks. It appears that at least as of the writing of this piece the season is a go even with new restrictions being put in place in some states including mandated masks and closed sectors of the economy.
While the final plan hasn’t been announced, WCCO reached out to season ticket holders to find out what their thoughts are on the upcoming season and what they’ve heard from the team.
According to WCCO, the Vikings are struggling to create a plan that is both safe for fans and gives access to season tickets holders. They spoke with season ticket holder Zach Sloane, of Wisconsin where he says he is used to social distancing as a Vikings fan.
Of attending games in 2020, something he has the option to attempt (or he could essentially get a credit and attend in 2021 (assuming COVID has a vaccine by then)), Sloane says:
“I’d like to attend if it feels safe and it’s reasonable to do so”
As far as what has been communicated to season ticket holders, the article says:
“The team outlined in the letter to all 60,000 season ticket holders that Stadium Builder’s License owners (SBL) will get seating preference in a reduced-seating configuration. The strict reduction will be necessary to comply with social distancing protocols. “
That means that if lucky Sloane or other season ticket holders would attend two to three games tops, as they’d have to put at least two seats between each fan (both in the same row and in rows in front and behind each).
The team would also need to stagger times people could enter US Stadium and presumably sanitize each seat after each game.
It’s no wonder that the team, again according to WCCO, is struggling to come up with a cohesive plan in these crazy times.
Considering that as of the last season ticket sales accounted for over 15% of the leagues nearly $10 billion in profit (that’s nearly $1.5 billion), it’d be a big blow to the league and its teams, especially as it was also announced that the league would forgo preseason games this season (which brings in some television revenue, the main source of the billions the league makes).
The final plan will require the approval of Minnesota governor Tim Walz which means that each team could be at the behest of the politics surrounding COVID, which could further complicate things.
Considering, it might be easier to just have the league play in front of empty stadiums, especially in places like Lambeau, where the Lambeau leap could end up as a spike in new cases in a town dogged by the very secondary health conditions that exacerbate COVID (like heart disease, diabetes and being a Packers fan).
That would eliminate 15% of the leagues income and could lead to a disastrous drop in the 2021 salary cap, although its safe to say the league would move heaven and earth to avoid that reality.