The Baltimore Ravens became the first National Football League team to offer specific details around plans for reduced attendance during the upcoming 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Numerous teams around the league have already either eased up on normal ticket sales efforts, deferred season ticket sales until 2021, or specifically held back some ticket inventory in preparation for various social distancing needs. The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers also among NFL teams that have made more general statements regarding plans for significant reductions in expected seating capacities this year.
But in a team statement and an email sent to personal seat license holders, the Ravens detailed plans to limit capacity at M&T Bank Stadium to fewer than 14,000 seats, if state and government regulations allow fans to attend at all, and will also be deferring all season ticket sales.
The new maximum attendance would be less than one fifth of the stadium’s normal seating capacity of more than 71,000.
“To offer a proper level of safety for fans who want to attend games, a reduction in capacity is necessary,” said Ravens president Dick Cass. “We are disappointed that this will be a disruption for many ticket buyers, but we have an obligation to our fans and our community to keep M&T Bank Stadium as safe as possible.”
There is not yet a finalized plan for 2020 fan attendance across the league. But once that emerges, it will likely be a combination of both NFL policy and local-level health regulations, with final decisions to be made closer to the start of the regular season in September. There already been some planned seating changes driven by the pandemic, as NFL owners late last month approved a plan to tarp off lower-level rows at NFL stadiums to sell that camera-visible space to corporate sponsors.
“The focus would be on playing in home stadiums, even if that initially is without fans in some stadiums,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL executive vice president of club business and events.
As for the Ravens and their more than 62,000 full-season ticket equivalents, the team plans to prioritize PSL owners once tickets go on sale on an as-yet-undetermined date once a revised seating manifest is finalized. Like many other NFL teams, the Ravens will also protect the seat locations of all season ticket holders and defer their accounts to 2021.
Single-game ticket sales to date for the 2020 season will be discontinued, and refunds will be issued for prior purchases.
“There is no equitable way to accommodate in a limited stadium capacity all PSL owners who are interested in maintaining season tickets for 2020,” said Baker Koppelman, Ravens senior vice president of ticket sales and operations. “Under these normal circumstances, it’s best to simply the ticket sales process and allow fans to decide which games they want to attend, while giving our PSL owners priority in accessing tickets.”
In addition to the normal home games against their three AFC North division opponents, the Ravens this season are also scheduled to host the Chiefs, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New York Giants.
A state-level ban on spectators at sporting events is currently still in place in Maryland. State-level guidelines that will guide final seating decisions for the Ravens will also apply to the neighboring Washington Redskins, who play in Landover, Maryland, and are now exploring a potential name change.