The National Football League’s Green Bay Packers have announced they will play at least their first two home games of the 2020 season without fans at Lambeau Field in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It means there will not be spectators at the scheduled home games against the Detroit Lions on September 20 and the Atlanta Falcons on October 1. The team’s next home game is against the Minnesota Vikings on November 1.
The Packers had hoped to host between 10,000 and 12,000 fans at home games this season at the 81,441-seat Lambeau Field, a total representing about 15 per cent of the stadium capacity.
“Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans’ energetic support in the stands,” Packers president Mark Murphy said in a statement. “Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season. These two games will allow us to focus our attention on safely conducting games inside the stadium with all necessary participants.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to host fans for games later in the season, should conditions allow. We will continue to consult with community healthcare and public health officials on the pandemic conditions in our area. We ask our fans to continue to help by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing guidelines,” the statement added.
The Packers, the league’s only publicly-traded team and its smallest-market team, recently reported a franchise-record $506.9m (€430.5m) in revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020, a six-per-cent increase from the prior year and the first time the club has surpassed the half-a-billion-dollar mark.
The team will follow in the footsteps of other NFL teams who are not allowing fans at home games, including the Las Vegas Raiders and New York Jets and Giants, who share MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.