The NFL plans to have a full season in open stadiums. But the NFL nevertheless has a plan for developments that would prevent a full season in open stadiums from occurring.
Via the Associated Press, the NFL sent a memo on Tuesday to all teams regarding the ticket refund policy that will apply to games that are canceled or played without fans present, and that will apply to all teams.
“[A]ll clubs will have in place a policy under which, if a game is cancelled, or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, anyone purchasing a ticket directly from the club (i.e., season tickets, group sales and/or partial season plans) will have the option of either receiving a full refund or applying the amount paid toward a future ticket purchase directly from the club,” the memo from Commissioner Roger Goodell explains.
The league reportedly was debating the possibility of delaying the schedule release, due in part to concerns regarding ticket refunds for games that aren’t played or that are played without fans present.
“In preparing for all elements of the 2020 season, including the schedule release, we have considered the unique circumstances facing us this year, and have been clear that all of our decisions will be guided by medical and public health advice and will comply with government regulations,” Goodell writes. “We will be prepared to make necessary adjustments just as we have in other contexts, such as the offseason program and the draft.
“I believe the policies that clubs have in place will serve the league and all member clubs in a variety of ways and will allow us to continue preparing for the 2020 season while also protecting the interests of our fans.”
The NFL believes that it will be able to play the full season, and there is optimism that stadiums will be open, based on anticipated developments in diagnostic testing, antibody testing, and treatment for the coronavirus. The biggest challenge will come from getting all states in which the NFL does business on board with permitting stadiums to be open, and then from devising a plan for proceeding if one or more states decline to permit games to be played with fans present.