Which NFL Teams Are Allowing Fans to Attend Games?

In 2020, live sports sans fans changes the atmosphere for everyone. The NFL has been able to play most of its games. Some have been shifted due to COVID-19, but they haven’t outright canceled any. Most teams have either no fans in attendance or a very limited number. So which NFL teams are allowing fans to cheer them on in-person? Let’s look at how the league is managing this strange year in terms of fan attendance. 

Why some NFL teams aren’t allowed to host fans

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There are no federal rules in place providing enforceable guidelines on mass gatherings or major events. It’s up to individual states to decide whether they want to allow people to be able to attend sporting events. That means that NFL attendance this year has been extremely variable.

Some stadiums are allowing people to attend in very limited numbers. Others are completely empty. It depends on the state the team plays in. Teams are beholden to the orders of their governor or local government. They can’t really set their own attendance guidelines. 

This has created an odd atmosphere for live games. While sports in a different form is better than no sports at all, fans have to adjust to it. They’re accustomed to hearing thousands of cheering fans and seeing them yelling and booing during games. It’s made for a much different viewing experience this year to be sure. 

How not having fans affects NFL teams

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Obviously, the NFL experience is a vastly different one without fans. It costs the league and teams money. While the NFL has a massive TV deal in place, it also relies on selling game tickets. That’s a huge profit center for the league and while it hasn’t been wiped out completely this season, it’s been decimated beyond recognition. 

For the players, the massive cut in fans has led to a much less decided advantage for home teams. There’s no way around it; having a packed stadium has certain advantages for home teams. The home crowd can cheer loudly when the visiting team is on offense, making it harder for them to communicate.

While this may not have as much of an impact now, it will be interesting to see how it affects the postseason. Getting home-field advantage is a huge edge for the best teams in January. Now, this levels the playing field for teams who aren’t quite as good. 

What teams are allowing fans to attend NFL games? 

Pittsburgh Steelers fans cheer during a socially distanced game against the Eagles
Steelers fans cheer at a socially distanced game versus the Eagles | Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The COVID-19 situation is fluid and ever-changing, so this list may vary from week to week. But the following NFL teams hosted fans during Week 6 games, as NBC Sports details:

  • The Steelers were allowed to have 7,500 fans. 
  • The Eagles (another Pennsylvania team) could host 7,500 fans. 
  • The Vikings hosted 250 family members of team personnel. 
  • The Jaguars opened at 25% capacity. 
  • The Colts had 12,500 people in attendance. 
  • The Panthers allowed fans in a “limited capacity.” 
  • The Buccaneers opened at 25% capacity. 
  • Playing on Monday night, 25,000 fans saw the Cardinals shut down the Cowboys.

These scenarios will continue to change depending on the state. For now, expect a very unpredictable turnout for every game. If COVID cases spike in a specific area, plans to host fans in a limited capacity may be shuttered. It all depends on the circumstances and it will likely continue to fluctuate from city-by-city as the season progresses.