Fans Or No Fans

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    Leagues are finding ways to let a limited number of fans attend games, but testing appears to be key to growing that further.

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While the timeline for the full return of live sports is becoming clearer in the U.S., when fans will be able to attend games is still up in the air.

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said that rapid coronavirus testing, which can produce a result in under an hour, will allow Americans to attend crowded sports events this fall.

“We want to see Americans have a chance to have some normal experiences of enjoying life,” Collins told a U.S. Senate Subcommittee hearing. “I do believe this should be possible.” Previously, White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed doubt over the NFL playing this fall unless the players were in a bubble.

Last month, NASCAR reintroduced fans at select tracks in significantly limited numbers, including 5,000 fans at Talladega Superspeedway — which has a normal main grandstand capacity of 80,000. All fans in attendance were screened before entering, required to wear face coverings, and mandated to social distance.

The Professional Bull Riders, one of the first sports organizations to restart live events in the U.S., will also become one of the first to have an indoor ticketed event on July 10 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Capacity will be limited to 50%, and fans will be given complimentary face coverings and will only be allowed to use mobile tickets. The venue will also have cashless concessions and prepackaged food.

When the USL Championship resumes live games on July 11, several teams across the league plan to allow limited spectators. The Real Monarchs, based in Utah, announced yesterday that it plans to host 5,300 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, which has a normal capacity of 20,700.  Later in the month, the NWSL Challenge Cup will also hold games at the stadium without fans.

While the NBA, NHL, and MLS will all resume their seasons without fans, it remains unclear if MLB will allow fans in certain markets. New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told YES Network that he expects to have fans in Yankee Stadium this season, potentially starting at 20% to 30% of full capacity.