The NFL season kicks off this Thursday when the Houston Texans take on the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs. They will be playing in Kansas City, inside Arrowhead Stadium, and in front of fans!
What the Chiefs are doing
Arrowhead Stadium is one of only two confirmed stadiums in the NFL that so far has confirmed to have fans in the stands. The other stadium is Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins where they are going to have about 13,000 fans (around 20% of capacity). In Arrowhead the Chiefs are allowing around 17,000 fans (22% capacity).
It’s amazing to me that there aren’t more teams allowing fans in the stands to start the season. There is no logical reason to think stadiums that hold between 60,000 and 100,000 fans can’t have some amount of fans in the stands.
I will admit, I’m one of those people who believed the world was overreacting to Covid-19. So when I see all those seats I can’t imagine people thinking it’s not safe to have 20,000 people in the stands. The virus is transmitted by being within six feet of someone who has the virus for at least 15 minutes. In Kansas City, the Chiefs are showing just how easy it is to keep people safe.
No fans will be within that six feet for a 15-minute threshold for the entire game-day experience. Tickets to the game were sold in pods, where you will only be sitting with people you bring to the game. In the parking lot before the game, fans will only be allowed to tailgate with the people in their ticket pod. Parking spaces will be arranged so no one is parking within 20 feet of another vehicle. Fans have assigned parking lots and gates they can enter the stadium to avoid long lines into the stadium.
They have created a long entry walkway that will make it easy for fans to maintain at least six feet of distance. Although the distance won’t matter that much in line since the line will not take more than 15 minutes. Once in the stadium, you will sit with your pod with plenty of social distance between pods. The only non-social distance will take place in bathroom & concession lines, but again, those will not last anywhere near the 15-minute threshold.
Fans are also mandated to wear a mask at all times except when actively drinking or eating. It’s this combination of mask and social distance that all but grantees there will be no transmission of Covid19 outside of the people within their own pods.
Why aren’t other teams doing the same thing?
If KC can do this so easily, what excuse does every other NFL team have for not doing all they can to have their fans in the stands? I think it’s a combination of teams being lazy and bowing to fear. It took a lot of planning and work for the Chiefs to put fans into the stands happen. Other NFL teams decided their fans weren’t worth the hassle.
Besides the pure laziness and taking fans for granted, the teams are bowing to the silent majority fear mongers. While I would be perfectly fine with going to Arrowhead with 76,000 people, I understand that’s not realistic. Every team could find 20% of their fan base who would happily pay and follow the protocols to go to a live football game.
But the owners are afraid of the silent majority on social media who would almost hope for some fans to get COVID from going to games. We all know those people on Twitter who are against anything that’s not a full lockdown. That same person appears to live by Twitter and Facebook just waiting to be the first one to say I told you so the second one person gets COVID (symptoms or not).
The Chiefs have decided not to bow to that pressure. If someone does attract COVID, will those trolls throw stones at the Chiefs? Most definitely they will, but the Chiefs have declared they aren’t afraid of some backlash. After the first three games with fans in Arrowhead go smoothly, I hope other NFL teams will think logically for themselves and have their fans in the stands.
But until then the Chiefs and Dolphins will be the only NFL teams with the true spirit of the show must go on. There will be nearly 17,000 fans in Arrowhead on opening night to watch the Super Bowl 54 banner be raised. No, it won’t be the usual loudest stadium in the world vibe, but I’m going and can’t wait to be apart of history.