The NFL remains highly optimistic that the 2020 season will be played. The NFL has become less optimistic that fans will be present for the games. That would have a major economic impact on the NFL; the NFLPA has pegged it at $3 billion. It also could have a major economic impact on NFL cities.
While no numbers have been widely circulated yet regarding the loss of 10 regular-season crowds, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, Alabama recently said that his city will lose $2 billion if the Crimson Tide don’t play their home games in 2020.
“It would be economically catastrophic for Tuscaloosa if there is no football season,” Walt Maddox told CBS42.com. “Even a mitigated football season with restricted attendance and number of ball games would have dire economic consequences.”
The school itself would lose $25.1 million per game — a total of $175.7 million for seven home games that would be lost (or played with fewer or no fans) in 2020. The broader loss for Tuscaloosa dwarfs that number. Beyond the fact that these ridiculously large dollars further make the case for college football players getting something more than tuition, books, room, board, and snacks, it suggests that 256 regular-season NFL games played without fans would result in staggering losses for the 30 cities that host NFL teams.
Whatever the financial losses, the public-health realities of the coronavirus likely will prevail. As the season approaches, the NFL seems to be coming to grips with the fact that, given the current state of the pandemic, it will be too difficult and too risky to allow fans to attend the games.