Sunday December 3, 2023

Hall of Fame Events Revised Due to COVID-19

  • The rise of the delta variant has led to new guidance as teams set to allow full attendance.
  • The NFL lost about $4 billion last season as attendance was drastically reduced.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks
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Some events at the Pro Football Hall of Fame this week in Canton have been revised as a result of the COVID delta variant surge, an indicator that the NFL will have to muddle through another season dealing with the pandemic — which cost the league around $4 billion in lost revenues last season. 

Public health officials in Ohio’s Stark County have “recommended” masks for indoor events, no matter one’s vaccination status, as the county’s COVID count crept into the “substantial spread” range.

About 90% of NFL players have received at least one dose of the vaccine, a rate that’s higher than the national average of adults in the U.S. (70.1%). 

There’s no new mask recommendation for Thursday night’s Cowboys-Steelers preseason Hall of Fame Game, where a sellout crowd of 19,000 is expected to turn out — the first full-capacity crowd for an NFL game since Super Bowl LIV in February 2020. 

  • Per CDC guidance, teams in domed/retractable-roof stadiums recommend masks for fans no matter their vaccination status
  • Open-air stadiums don’t currently have a mask recommendation for those who are fully vaccinated. 
  • Teams would bear the financial burden and could be forced to forfeit if a scheduled game isn’t played. 
  • Players would not be paid if an unvaccinated outbreak causes a cancellation. 

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 preseason and led to a nearly 93% drop in attendance as teams drastically reduced stadium capacity. All 32 NFL teams expect to allow full attendance this season.

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