Stephen Ross, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, said that NFL will return for the 2020 season with or without spectators. Talking to CNBC, the billionaire said that he thinks there will “definitely be football this year. The real question is will there be fans in the stadiums?”
Ross is the first executive to publicly claim that the games will resume this year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With profound health risks which could only escalate as days pass, there is certainly too much money at stake to keep the games shut till 2021. The NFL has said it expects to play a full schedule beginning in September but is also preparing contingency plans.
“Right now, today, we’re planning on having some fans in the stadiums”, Ross said. However, safely resuming games can prove to be very difficult.
Last month, a record-setting 15.6 million viewers watched the first round of the NFL draft. The virtual draft was a big hit as commissioner Roger Goodell announced each team’s picks from his home. Live streams from players’ homes were also broadcasted to allow fans to witness their reactions when their names were called out. Teams were also permitted, last week, to slowly begin reopening their facilities for select personnel.
Recently, the Dolphins said that their stadium committed to becoming the first to receive accreditation from a cleaning industry association for efforts to prevent infectious diseases. CEO Tom Garfinkel said that social distancing proposals are being considered and crowds may be limited to 15,000. “We’ve done a lot of things down in Miami. We’re prepared either way and hopefully, there will be fans in the stadiums”, said real estate developer and team owner, Stephen Ross.
According to the Wall Street Journal, one positive test would force an entire team to quarantine. But it is also possible that a single positive test might not even stop the game. While it may be inevitable players and personnel will contract the virus. What matters is how the League handles it.
Do you think it is a smart decision for the League to resume despite the ongoing pandemic?