Will Super Bowl 55 have a live audience? See the NFL’s plans
Super Bowl 55 is the penultimate chapter in what has been the most interesting season in the NFL. Despite the other leagues prohibiting fans from attending games or using bubbles to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the NFL allowed fans in select stadiums.
COVID-19 presented many challenges to the NFL season. First and foremost is the number of rescheduled games, postponed, or canceled due to outbreaks. Now the NFL will have to make the toughest decision it’s had to make all season.
Super Bowl 55 is still a go in Tampa Bay. So don’t worry about it getting canceled or postponed. The NFL is deciding if they will allow fans to attend the game. There are many “what ifs…” in the decision, and the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell are not taking it lightly.
Where is Super Bowl 55?
Luckily for the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are hosting Super Bowl 55. Their stadium, Raymond James Stadium, has been allowing fans since week 4 against the Los Angeles Chargers. The stadium allows only a limited number of fans, but only half of the league’s stadiums are open to fans.
Stadiums allowing fans are averaging about 18.4% capacity, with Tampa Bay ranking near the top of the league with 25% capacity. Not surprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys are leading the league in capacity with 30%, according to TickPic. Hopefully, they keep their retractable open to allow 30% capacity.
Florida currently has the third most cases in the U.S. with 1.45 million cases and fourth in deaths with 22,665 deaths. According to The New York Times, Hillsborough county, containing Tampa Bay, is fifth in the state in cases, contributing 84,714 cases and county ICU capacity at 78%.
Who will attend Super Bowl 55?
In a letter to the President of the Tampa Super Bowl Hosting Committee Rob Higgens, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league is considering vaccinated healthcare workers. It’s unclear if the only people allowed to attend will be vaccinated healthcare workers or if they will be a percentage of those permitted. No matter what, Goodell what’s to make sure they are there as the NFL’s guest.
“We all know that over the past year, these frontline workers have put their own lives at risk to the benefit of society, and we owe them our ongoing recognition. We also know that they will remain essential for months to come to treat those who are ill and administer vaccines,” Goodell wrote in the letter.
According to the letter, the NFL is looking to use the opportunity to promote the importance of vaccination and appropriate health practices, including wearing masks in public settings.
How many fans will be allowed in?
The number of fans is still unclear. The NFL is working with public health officials to come up with a number to admit. To Goodell, the number one priority is the safety of fans.
“We are going to try to bring as many fans as we can safely do. I am not sure there is a specific number we are confident saying this is what it will be,” Goodell explained. However, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wants a full Super Bowl stadium in February.
The CDC considers any large gather, indoors or outside, as the highest risk. Especially considering fans fly in from around the country to experience the big game. If COVID cases continue to climb in the early months of 2021, the prospect of filling Raymond James Stadium is unlikely even as vaccinations continue to roll out.
Are you ready to return to large gatherings like sports events yet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.