Safety or a pleasant fan experience?
COVID-19 is proving to be a daunting opponent for National Football League teams who want people to attend games in stadiums. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan wants people in the 49ers Santa Clara County, California stadium to cheer on his team. The NFL wants people in that building but Santa Clara officials have said no. It seems nothing has changed since April when Santa Clara County Executive Dr. Geoff Smith told the county Board of Supervisors that “I don’t expect that we’ll have any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’ll be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving.” California officials recently paved the way for the 49ers business to open the doors to customers. In theory California would let up to 14,000 people attend the 49ers November 5th game. Under California rules, those who attend 49ers games would have to live within 120 miles of the 49ers’ stadium. Santa Clara officials don’t want any part of the NFL or any sports fan experience right now.
Dr. Smith is concerned that a 49ers game even though it would be played outdoors would be a super spreader event. “It’s a matter of reasonable scientific decision-making instead of political decision-making,” Smith said. “Putting an audience in a stadium in large groups is just asking for trouble. It’s like a petri dish.” Among the problems, customers would yell and scream during a game and use the same entrances and exits and restrooms. The 49ers organization was not the only NFL business told it cannot open the doors to the stadium for fans. The Seattle Seahawks business will not be able to get fans in the Seattle stadium for a November 1st game against San Francisco because of COVID-19 concerns. Fifteen teams are allowing customers to attend games, seventeen are not.