It has been widely assumed that the NFL would play games without fans this season, but the latest update paints a positive picture for some Seahawks fans to be in attendance. The News Tribune’s Gregg Bell reported that the Seahawks are planning for a limited number of fans to attend games using social distancing measures.
“A league source with knowledge of their contingency planning told The News Tribune the Seahawks are exploring the possibility of playing their eight regular-season home games in a half-filled CenturyLink Field, because of social-distancing requirements in the coronavirus pandemic,” Bell noted. “That plan could involve leaving entire rows or every other seat empty, and decisions on which season-ticket holders would get which games as part of amended packages.”
If the Seahawks do allow a limited number of fans, it will be interesting to see how the team determines who will attend games. Bell noted that the Seahawks are preparing for “20,000 or so fans.”
“Behind the scenes the Seahawks are also considering home games with fewer than half their seats filled, with perhaps 20,000 or so fans,” Bell continued. “That would leave entire swaths of CenturyLink Field empty—and quiet.”
The Lack of Fans Could Hurt the Seahawks More Than Most NFL Teams
Playing in front of no fans would impact all teams, but the Seahawks have one of the biggest home-field advantages in the NFL. Even if the Seahawks are only allowed a limited number of fans, the team is still likely to feel the effects of a subdued atmosphere more than most teams. Earlier this offseason, Carroll discussed the possibility and admitted that the team must be “ready to adapt.”
“I would say that back to my UOP (University of the Pacific) days when we used to play in front of nobody, the game can still be played,” Carroll said, per USA Today. “You know, whatever has to happen; everybody needs to be wide open and ready to adapt and all of that and all aspects of our lives right now and certainly as we approach the season, we are going to have to be prepared. There’s still a great opportunity to show the game to our fans through the media resources, but if that’s the way it is, it will be a different experience, but it can happen.”
The NFL Is Discussing Cutting the Preseason in Half
The 2020 NFL season is a bit of a moving target as the league continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, the NFL has maintained its commitment to playing a full regular season as scheduled. The preseason games are far less certain as the NFL and player’s union are discussing potentially eliminating half of the 2020 preseason games.
“The NFL and NFLPA are discussing the possibility of shortening the 2020 preseason, per sources. Nothing finalized or imminent, but multiple team executives informed of talks currently believe they could end up playing two preseason games, rather than four,” NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero noted on Twitter.
The Seahawks are scheduled to start preseason action at home against the Raiders on August 13. If the first two games are canceled, the Seahawks would begin the preseason on August 27 against the Chargers.