We still don’t know how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect the 2020 NFL season. The league has been proceeding like Week 1 will happen in September, without any delays.
It remains to be seen how things will play out with the pandemic, but with California Gov. Gavin Newsom saying he doesn’t anticipate having fans in attendance at sporting events until herd immunity is built up, or a vaccine is developed the NFL may have to find alternate venues for the four teams in the state.
The San Francisco 49ers are scheduled to play the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium in Week 1. If the team can’t allow fans in, it will be a big financial loss for the organization. Pro Football Talks Mike Florio suggests moving the Niners home games to State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
“The 49ers could play in Arizona. Both teams have home games in Week Nine, but the 49ers play on Thursday night while the Cardinals play on Sunday. In Week 13, the Cardinals play on Sunday, but the 49ers play on Monday night. The two teams never have home games on the same day.”
Florio’s suggestion makes logistical sense, but is it practical? San Francisco would have to either shift its operations to a different state for the season or arrange to travel to Arizona a day or two before these games. Having fans in attendance who are spending money on tickets, concessions, parking, etc., will help the NFL’s bottom line, but I don’t think it makes sense for teams to play outside of their home city.
Unless the NFL can guarantee 49ers fans will get the first crack at buying tickets, they would be at a competitive disadvantage in Week 1, and if Niner fans are unable to travel due to restrictions, how many of these would be actual home games?
I understand that this is an unprecedented time where decisions have to be made that won’t necessarily be popular, but this one idea I cannot get behind.
San Francisco is a Super Bowl favorite going into the 2020 season, and having the team be away from home basically the entire year could hamper their efforts.
Would you want the 49ers to play home games at Levi’s without fans? Or do you like Florio’s suggestion of playing in Arizona?