The Atlanta Falcons are the latest NFL team to announce its plans for the 2020 season when it comes to having fans at games. After making the announcement of planning to have a maximum of 20,000 fans for each game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons have made the decision to play in front of no fans though the month of September. The team will re-evaluate on having fans attend games in the coming weeks.
"The health and safety of our fans is our top priority," Steve Cannon, CEO, AMB Sports and Entertainment said in press release. "As much as we want to bring our Falcons and Atlanta United fans together at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, their safety and wellbeing, and that of our associates, the competitors, officials and game staff, and our community as a whole will always come first. After thoughtful consideration and collaboration, it became clear to us that adhering to the guidance by national and local health officials was the right decision."
This move will only affect two Falcons games - the home opener against the Seattle Seahawks (Sept. 13) and the contest against the Chicago Bears (Sept. 27). In late July, the Falcons sent an email to season ticket holders telling them the plan was to have 10,000-20,000 fans for each game. However, the coronavirus pandemic will prevent the Falcons from playing in front of a home crowd for the time being.
"It's complicated as heck," Falcons vice president of sales and service Don Rovak said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. When you only have 10,000 to 20,000 seats, you need to be thoughtful. Is it going to be perfect? Absolutely not. But I do think we'll provide a level of care that our (fans) will feel, and we’ll be able to justify it for this point in time."
The Falcons are one of the few teams to announce that no fans will be allowed to attend games at the start of the year. The Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints have made similar announcements while the Las Vegas Raiders are not having fans at all this season. The Dallas Cowboys, however, plan to have fans when the season starts as the state of Texas allows up to 50% capacity at sports events. The Washington Football Team will play the 2020 season with no fans at FedEx Field.