After months of questions and concerns regarding how NFL teams will allow fans safely into stadiums, we have our answer from the Atlanta Falcons: They can’t, at least not in the near future.
The Falcons officially announced that fans will not be allowed until at least October. That is now four games at the Benz without fans, with the two preseason games canceled and the September games played in front of only empty seats.
This will be a tough start for the team. The Falcons start off the season with the Seahawks at home, Cowboys in Dallas, Bears at home, Packers in Green Bay, then hosting the Panthers on October 11. We now know the Falcons will play games against the Seattle Seahawks (9/13) and the Chicago Bears (9/27) without any fans in the stadium.
The earliest potential game with Falcons fans at home will be the Panthers game. The first month will be tough with the struggling franchise facing multiple playoff-caliber teams. Now they face all four without a heavy presence of Falcons fans.
For those of us who have watched sports in the last few months, we know there are a few options for what the NFL will do in the absence of fans. We have seen cardboard cutouts, fake crowd noise, and even virtual fans.
What will change between now and October 11 remains unclear, and this may just be the first move of many removing fans from stadiums. Dan Quinn better prepare for how to best optimize the lack of crowd noise and get out strong this season.