States around the U.S. and the NFL are scrambling to find safe solutions for in-game attendance for fans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Different states are in differing stages of severity, in terms of cases, but Ohio is attempting to take baby steps toward normalcy.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, who has been monitoring the data in his state closely, recently released a mandate allowing a very limited amount of fans for in-game attendance. This includes the Week 2 Thursday Night Football contest between the Bengals and Browns in Cleveland, and other upcoming contests both teams will be hosting in the state.
Essentially, this is an allowance of a total of 6,000 fans in these stadiums (“1,500 per side”). This number equates to roughly 8-9 percent of total fan capacity in Paul Brown Stadium (65,535) and FirstEnergy Stadium (67,895), respectively.
As noted in DeWine’s statement, face masks and social distancing measures will need to take place, as the teams and the Governor’s office will undoubtedly come to an agreement on what that will look like.
As we have seen many times during the pandemic, this could rapidly change. In fact, even though four games are noted as eligible for physical fan viewership, DeWine’s mandate also notes a “two-game trial”.
If COVID-19 numbers spike in the times surrounding these games, fan attendance will likely be shut down. The opposite applies as well, given that the country is trying to formulate a safe plan to re-open all facets of the economy, business, entertainment, services, and, well, life.
Unfortunately, as we already know, the Bengals’ Week 1 home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers will not have any fans in attendance. While safety and health of the population always come first, it is a bucket of cold water to the fan base for what has been a very exciting offseason in Cincinnati.
Bengals fans did have the ability to also purchase cut-outs of themselves to be placed in PBS, with the proceeds going to a number of charities. This was a measure to continue creating a safe environment, while also keeping fan engagement high.
If you are planning to attend these games in-person, please adhere to the guidelines to ensure public safety and the continual opening up of more events to come. We’ll be sure to update you further as these mandates undoubtedly get altered.