The NFL expects to have full stadiums in September. Baseball’s Texas Rangers will have a full stadium now.
President Joe Biden would prefer that they didn’t.
Appearing on ESPN last night, the President called the team’s decision to start the MLB season at full capacity during the ongoing pandemic a “mistake.”
“They should listen to Dr. Fauci, the scientists and the experts,” Biden told Sage Steele. “But I think it’s not responsible.”
His comments underscore the reality that state and local politics will impact whether and to what extent sports venues will be open for business in 2021. Commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent proclamation about full stadiums for the NFL season likely carried an element of aspiration, given that some states (like California) may be reluctant in September, October, November, or December to sign off on filling football stadiums. In states like Texas and Florida, the NFL would be allowed to pack people in today.
Other states, like New York and Massachusetts, may be leery about letting the turnstiles spin. On Wednesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was asked whether he has “been in touch with Governor Charlie Baker behind the scenes and have any understanding if you will be able to host a lot more fans than what we are seeing now.”
“Our organization has worked with the state and, like I said, if we could get more supply here, we could do up to 10,000 vaccinations a day,” Kraft said. “We could do a million-and-a-half people before our season would even start. We just need supply of product as well as the other sites and if that happens we should have herd immunity and I hope our people in the government sector can see it that way.”
In other words, there’s work to do to get to the place where Massachusetts will permit the Patriots to fill Gillette Stadium. Part of that work will involve vaccine logistics, and part of it will involve politics. Thus, it’s entirely possible that the 2021 season will begin, if not end, with some teams having a full house and others having far less than 100-percent capacity.