NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) — After weeks of uncertainty, the National Football League announced it is moving ahead with its 2020 regular season and shared details about its plans for games amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season will get underway on Thursday, Sept. 10 as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans for a prime-time game.
“The release of the NFL schedule is something our fans eagerly anticipate every year, as they look forward with hope and optimism to the season ahead,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities,” he added.
“We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this off-season in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.”
The league also announced that it will skip its International Series Games, due to the pandemic. Games had been scheduled for Mexico City and London but all will be shifted back to the U.S. for 2020.
As for the vital question of if the teams in the league will be playing in front of empty stadiums, that remains to be seen. However, the NFL is pushing forward with the intent of welcoming the public back to live football games in 2020.
“We are planning to have full stadiums until the medical community tells us otherwise,” Troy Vincent, executive vice president of football operations for the NFL during a radio broadcast on Washington sports radio 95.9 FM on Friday. “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.
Vincent went on to note that contingency planning includes operating at limited capacity, but he indicated that the goal is for games to be played in front of full stadiums.
“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,” he added.
Fans seem to be responding positively to the news, and according to CNBC, demand for tickets is notably higher than than last year, with overall ticket sales up by 234% on the first day of sales.
“While we certainly assumed there would be some level of demand, we have been surprised to see how strong it is, as fans look forward to football this fall,” Seatgeek’s Chris Leyden told CNBC via email.
It is unclear if that demand is driven by fans eager to return to normalacy, or if die-hard football fans are anticipating limited capacity for stadiums.