Broncos, Lions Announce No Fans for Home Openers Amid COVID-19

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 21, 2020

The logo and sign for Empower Field at Mile High hangs on the south stands of Mile High Stadium during a news conference to announce Empower's 21-year deal with the Denver Broncos for the naming rights to the NFL football team's stadium Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, in Denver. Empower, which is based in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, is the second-largest provider of retirement plans in the United States. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Denver Broncos and Detroit Lions announced Friday that they will not have fans in the stands for their respective 2020 home openers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Broncos released the following statement with regard to their Sept. 14 home game against the Tennessee Titans:

Denver Broncos @Broncos

“We are grateful for the loyalty and enthusiasm that Broncos fans have shown this year ... but this is the responsible thing to do right now.” Broncos to hold 2020 season opener with no fans at @EmpowerField, hopeful to have limited fans early in year » https://t.co/Qtwct0T1LY https://t.co/UKOiO2o5xn

The Lions noted that they will not have fans present for their home opener against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13, and they also won't for their second home game against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 4.

Team president Rod Wood released a statement on the decision via the Lions' official website:

"We have spent considerable time and resources implementing new gameday protocols at Ford Field and are ready to host fans at Lions games once approved by state guidelines. The health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, has been a focal point for all facets of 2020 season planning as demonstrated by being one of the first teams to gain approval from the NFL and NFLPA for meeting training camp COVID-19 requirements. We have the utmost confidence that we can provide a safe and enjoyable experience for fans at our stadium.

"Lions fans have traditionally created an intimidating environment for visiting teams at Ford Field and, even in a reduced capacity, will be missed when we kick off the season against our division rival, the Chicago Bears. We are hopeful for an opportunity to host fans at the remaining six 2020 home games."

Both the Broncos and Lions expressed hope that they will be able to host at least a limited number of fans at some point during the 2020 campaign.

With every state having different protocols in place regarding COVID-19, it is possible that some teams will be able to have fans in the stands during the 2020 NFL season while others won't.

Few teams have enjoyed a better home-field advantage over the years because of their fans than the Broncos, as Mile High Stadium—now known as Empower Field at Mile High—has always been considered a difficult place to play.

There is a great deal of excitement surrounding the Broncos entering the 2020 season, as quarterback Drew Lock showed flashes as a rookie last season, as did tight end Noah Fant. Denver also added rookie wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler to a receiving corps that already included Courtland Sutton, plus they signed running back Melvin Gordon.

With a seventh playoff spot being added this season, the Broncos have a legitimate chance to return to the postseason for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2015.

The Lions went just 3-12-1 last season and have an uphill climb when it comes to contending in the NFC North, but with quarterback Matthew Stafford returning from an injury that cost him the final eight games last season, Detroit could have a potent offense, too.

Detroit selected running back D'Andre Swift in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft as well, which could add a much-needed boost to a running game that has struggled throughout Stafford's career.

With neither the Broncos nor the Lions having fans in attendance for Week 1, it will make for a unique atmosphere and one that may require some adjustments to be made by the teams involved.