Rams, Chargers, 49ers Announce Plans to Play Without Fans for Start of Season

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Interior general view of SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams announced Tuesday they'll open the 2020 NFL season without fans in attendance at SoFi Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic. The San Francisco 49ers announced the Levi's Stadium stands will also be empty to start the campaign. 

The L.A. teams released a joint statement about the decision:

"While we all look forward to coming together to celebrate this new era of sports and entertainment in Los Angeles, the health and safety of our fans, community, players and staff remains our top priority. We will continue to work with LA County Department of Public Health and the City of Inglewood on a plan that, when circumstances permit, safely brings fans to SoFi Stadium and adheres to local, state, CDC and NFL guidelines."

The Niners said they will "continue to work with state and county officials regarding the potential to welcome the Faithful back to Levi's Stadium later this season."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in June the league would allow teams to decided individually whether to permit fans based on state and local COVID-19 guidelines. Executive vice president for NFL partnerships Renie Anderson added seat coverings would be used for extra space between fans and players.

"The No. 1 goal is keeping our players and our staff and all of our fans safe and these seat covers ... provide clear separation between the players and fans," Anderson said. "It's important to note that this is not meant to displace fans if we're able to have full fan scenarios."

A majority of teams have decided to open the season without fans, but some have decided to allow spectators at a reduced capacity, per ESPN.

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott spoke out Monday about the NFL allowing some teams to garner an advantage by having fans.

"I think it's honestly ridiculous that there will be, on the surface, what appears to be a playing field that's like that—inconsistently across the league with the different away stadiums," McDermott told reporters.

Updated numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show over 5.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases with more than 176,000 deaths attributed to the disease.

The 2020 season is scheduled to kick off Sept. 10 when the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are expected to allow around 16,000 fans in the stadium for the opener.