Fan Forum: Lottery? Just family? How fans could return to stadiums with social distancing

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter
NFC West/AFC West

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

Last week I introduced the OTFB Fan Forum. A group of 6 fans from across the NFL who are willing to be a voice for football fans. The first question posed to them was about how they felt about fans not being allowed in stadiums for NFL games. This week, we look at fans being allowed, but with social distancing in place.

When and if the NFL decides they can allow fans into the stadiums to watch games, more than likely they will have to cut down the number of fans that can do that by as much as 2/3, with the required 6 ft of distancing and most likely masks required.

That then gives the teams, and the league, a major problem to solve. How do you choose which fans are allowed? How do you allocate those tickets? What would the consequences be if fans don’t follow the rules? Our Fan Forum weighs in with their thoughts.

Ashley, our Buffalo Bills fan, thinks they should stick to family and season ticket holders.

“If they do allow people into the stadium, it should be the family of the players and season ticket holders. Honestly it’s difficult to pick and choose should be able to go at all because it won’t be a fair way no matter what they decide. Really hoping fans will be able to go to some degree this year.”

I think we all hope that’s the case, Ashley. Maybe mid-season?


Derrick, Patriots fan, thinks the league should take it slow if it plans to bring fans in.

“I think a decision should be made by Aug 1 on whether it’s no fans or limited fans. Me personally I think the 1st half of the season should have no fans and the 2nd half should have limited fans so social distancing could still be adhered to flatten this curve.”

This seems to be the prevailing thought among people “in the know”, with the NFL taking a wait and see approach.


Brian, Kansas City fan, believes a 25% formula would work.

“As for limited admissions, I would limit admission to season ticket members only. I could imagine selecting STMs by section at about 25% capacity at first, then those fans could be spread out effectively. That could give everyone 1 preseason game and 2 regular-season games.”

While the teams would have to refund some tickets or give credit for next season, at least there would be a chance for each STH to get into a game.


Our Los Angles Rams fan, Son Dee, believes its got to be all or nothing.

“Personally I’m not going to any large, crowded events for a long time. And I don’t trust your everyday fan to keep their distance. Finally, I know the league and the owners want their revenue, and season ticket holders want to get a return on their investment. But limiting who can and can’t attend just seems like a recipe for disaster. So I’d say teams need to take an all or nothing approach. Maybe allow for family and staff but that’s a small enough group where they could keep their distance.”

I think that it would have to be the NFL that makes that definitive decision. If its all or nothing, it has to be league-wide.


Love Me Falcons, our Atlanta fan, isn’t sure having a small number of fans would make the game any more fun.

“That’s a good question how do they pick who gets to attend which games, my personal opinion is it would probably be easier to have the stadium’s empty. However, they could do so many per section and switch the fans every other game though I don’t know how enjoyable that would be.”

Agreed. Would having 5,000 fans spread out in a 65,000 seat stadium be worth the hassle? Would it be any better for the players? The broadcast? I’m not sure.


And lastly, Mommy Unit, our Seattle Seahawks fan, hits the nail on the head.

“The next questions follow from that: How would seats get reassigned to follow distancing requirements? Would families be allowed to sit together? How would that be handled? How would equity issues with possible seat reassignments for distancing be handled? Would there be concessions available? How would restroom use be accommodated?”

“This is such an unusual situation with so many moving parts, I honestly can’t wrap my head around all of the scenarios. All I know is it’s approaching June and we still don’t know what we don’t know and, honestly, neither does the NFL.”

She is 100% correct. We just have no idea how it will work. Although other leagues are currently in the process of working out how to make it work, they are just now being allowed to have group practices.

It seems we are a long way off from anyone being allowed in the stadiums to watch.

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG

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