NFL Takes Event Lead

As the national shutdown begins to reopen in places, sheltering in place is getting old for many. Sports fans, in particular, are eager for a return to normalcy as ESPN broadcasts of cornhole tournaments and Korean baseball in the early morning hours are nice attempts but not enough for the typical American fan.

With the release of the 2020 NFL schedule on Thursday night, that may be about to change. It has created a frenzy of welcomed sports news and content including the annual tradition of premature team record predictions that are bound to be blown up after a couple of games. An even tougher prediction and of greater interest this year is what will the live NFL games look like.

With the daily ups and downs of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as current and changing social distancing measures, it is tough to imagine what NFL stadiums that average almost 70,000 seats will truly look like in a few months. The ideas and planning are endless across a large spectrum of possibilities. There are venue-provided personal protective equipment ideas from masks and gloves to even the spacesuit-inspired Micrashell. Any plan is likely to include protective equipment and queueing strategies at entrances and concession stands. Limiting attendance is also being considered if it means having some fans compared to none as described in albeit early plans from the Miami Dolphins with other teams following suit with similar planning contingencies.

NFL fans seem to be hoping for the best as ticket sales also began in earnest shortly following the release of schedules. Secondary marketplace SeatGeek reported that early NFL ticket sales were up more than 234% compared to last year. Marketplaces and teams with strong refund policies are likely helping to drive buyers’ confidence.

Another factor is the higher weighted impact of teams with interesting demand this year compared to teams that are facing reductions. Two teams with eye-popping demand this year are the Las Vegas Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Buoyed by a new home as well a popular travel destination for visiting fans, the Raiders sold out Allegiant Stadium. For the Buccaneers, the 2020 season looks promising due to the arrival of Tom Brady and sidekick Rob Gronkowski as well as an exciting home schedule.

While it is next to impossible to know what COVID-19 has in store for the country tomorrow let alone for the NFL September, one thing does seem pretty certain. NFL fans are chomping at the bit to a return to normalcy whenever that can happen.