Hall of Fame Game hoping for first full stadium since COVID began

Hall of Fame Game - Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals
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The Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Steelers set for last August quickly sold out. A full house was expected before the Pro Football Hall of Fame called off the entire weekend because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hall of Fame now is planning for the same thing this Aug. 5 when the Cowboys and Steelers are scheduled to meet in the postponed exhibition game.

“I think there’s a very good shot that we’ll be the first full stadium for football in the United States in nearly two years,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker told Howard Balzer of SI.com. “And, to me, that’s going to be good for the rest of the country and for the football season ahead. It shows that we can get our economy going and our kids educated and make even more advances on health care. But we’re going to be ready.”

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced a TV-only event, held indoors, for its summer celebration. (Baseball has no one to enshrine this year anyway.)

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, on the other hand, has plans for an unprecedented enshrinement weekend with the Hall of Fame Game followed by the 20-person enshrinements of the Centennial Class and modern-era class of 2020 on Saturday, Aug. 7 and then the eight-member Class of 2021 enshrinement on Sunday, Aug. 8.

The NFL draft in Cleveland will “probably be 50 percent virtual and 50 percent in person,” according to Baker, but the Pro Football Hall of Fame has four more months after the draft before hosting its events. Baker is counting on those four months being enough time to get the country in something of a new normal.

“I think by the time we get to August, we’re gonna be ready to go,” Baker said. “The vaccine is picking up. Obviously, the trend line is in the right direction right now. I think the NFL has a wonderful study that they did with the CDC that basically said that there wasn’t one infection that could be traced to the 1.2 million people that went to a game.

“At the Pro Football Hall of Fame, we’ve got new technology that takes the temperature of as many as 70 people at a time as they go through the Hall. So there’s a lot of things we can do. We got a great operational team. We’re going to rely very heavily on the experts at the NFL.”