MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Coronavirus has shut down most major sports since mid-March. While the NBA, NHL, and MLB remain suspended indefinitely, NASCAR and the PGA Tour have plans to push forward without fans in attendance. NASCAR will resume racing with a 400-miler on Sunday, May 17 at Darlington in South Carolina. The PGA Tour’s return event will be the Charles Schwab Challenge, which is scheduled for June 11-14 at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
In a pandemic-free world, the NFL regular season would still be more than four months away. So the league and its teams have the luxury of time to game-plan for an uncertain future. One approach could be to delay the season. Another could be to play games without fans in attendance.
It’s theoretically possible that COVID-19 will be under control by September and extra time and/or empty stadiums won’t be needed at all. Games could be played in full stadiums as originally intended. That seems highly unlikely, though recent re-openings around the country may yield additional information.
In short, sports leagues lack sufficient information to make concrete plans. That situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.
On Monday, the Miami Dolphins CEO/president Tom Garfinkel revealed initial plans on how fans might attend games at Hard Rock Stadium this season. The plans assumed a drastic reduction in fan count, possibly by as much as 75% of the 65,000 fans the venue can hold.
His mockups included spots on the ground at entrances to mark safe social distancing. According to Garfinkel, “we would have times to come in for security at different gates so people would be separated out, in terms of when they enter the stadium.” Exiting the stadium would happen in a similarly organized fashion. “We would exit the stadium much like a church environment, where each row exits so people aren’t filing out all at the same time in a herd.”
Masks would be required. Fans would order concessions from their seats to be picked up later rather than waiting on line.
Garfinkel also highlighted the team’s relationship with Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of the cleaning industry’s trade association. The hope is to establish “compliances with critical guidelines for the highest standard of cleanliness” that might extend league-wide.
The Dolphins’ mockup reveals a plan in its infancy, even as Florida loosens its stay-at-home restrictions. The NFL intends to keep all team facilities closed until every state with a team suspends its stay-at-home restrictions, so much remains to be seen.