- The NFL is currently working toward starting the 2020 regular season on time despite the challenges posed by COVID-19.
- This is the Raiders’ first season in Las Vegas after moving from their longtime home in Oakland.
- Team owner Mark Davis is leaning toward playing the 2020 season without fans.
The National Football League has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach on how to deal with the issue of fans at games this season. Actually, they’ve deferred that option to the teams to determine if fans can attend home games this year and if so, how many. With different community guidelines at play across the US there’s no way the league can go with a blanket policy here. Not that there’s a lot of clarity at the local level either. In Philadelphia, for example, there’s nothing but confusion on whether fans would potentially be allowed to attend Eagles’ games this fall.
Out in Las Vegas, there hasn’t been any official decision made on whether fans will be able to attend games as the Raiders play their first season in Southern Nevada. They’ve got a beautiful new venue–the $1.8 billion Allegiant Stadium–but based on recent comments from team owner Mark Davis it may be awhile before Vegas Valley NFL fans get to look inside. Davis told the Las Vegas Review Journal:
“If you asked me right now, I would say we will go with no fans in the stands”.
Davis has previously maintained that his team isn’t going to ‘play favorites’ with fans. Either all fans that have purchased tickets will be able to attend games or none of them will. He’s not the least bit optimistic about being able to play in front of fans this year:
“The only way I believe that can happen is if they delayed the start of the season rather than trying to start it right now in the middle of the uncertainty we have.”
“I believe we could get all the way up to November and still get a full season and playoffs and Super Bowl in, and if we went to November, we may have a better feel for what’s going on with the virus with some type of inoculation or something of that nature that could give us a better feel for the safety of the players, fans and everyone else.”
That even includes Davis himself. The Raiders’ owner has suggested that only ‘essential personnel’ should attend games. He humorously indicated that he doesn’t consider himself to fit in this category:
“The only thing I’m essential for is after the game yelling at Jon [Gruden]. I can do that over the phone.”
On a serious note, the Raiders’ owner says that if fans can’t attend that many of the ceremonial steps to be taken in the team’s new home might be postponed until 2021:
“We want our inaugural season to be something special. I don’t even know if we’ll light the [Al Davis] torch. These are all potentials and respecting all.”
Davis also admits that there’s no guarantee that the season will start on schedule suggesting that the league might be better served by delaying the start of the season until November. He doesn’t rule out the possibility of canceling the 2020 season altogether.