The city of Philadelphia seems to be saying there will be no fans allowed at Eagles games played at Lincoln Financial Field for the 2020 season.
Professional sporting events are listed as exempt from Philadelphia’s moratorium on large public events through February 2021, but city officials contradicted that Tuesday.
City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said the COVID-19 protocols for the major sports leagues “look pretty good” but having spectators would not be safe.”
“I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing,” Farley explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there. I can’t say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not (have) crowds.”
While Farley did not seem well-versed on the plans, city managing director Brian Abernathy, who recently announced his resignation, left no wiggle room.
“The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds,” Abernathy said while pointing to the deference sports leagues have given to state and local governments. “... (NFL rules) remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don’t expect any issues.”
Abernathy noted the City has also been in contact with the Eagles.
“We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don’t have fans,” Abernathy said.
The city update did cause at least one change by the organization which shifted its annual Autism Challenge to an all-virtual format set for Sept. 26.
“Although we won’t be together physically, we look forward to uniting our community virtually with the goal of taking action for autism,” the team said in a statement. “Please be assured that while the event will be virtual, we are working diligently to create an incredible experience for participants.”
No fans could cost the Eagles over $200 million in revenue, according to Forbes.
The iconic business magazine estimated the NFL would lose $5.5 billion of stadium revenue, which includes ticket revenue, concessions, corporate sponsors, parking, and team store revenues, nearly 38 percent of the league’s total pie based on figures for the 2018 season.
Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles would stand to lose $204M of $482M in total revenue per the 2018 numbers.
The impact will also harm the players who agreed to a new CBA which essentially splits 47 percent of revenue off to them, meaning the first substantial ding to the salary cap in history unless a miracle is around the next corner.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Friday on SIRIUSXM’s Tony Bruno Show with Harry Mayes, and every Tuesday and Thursday with Eytan Shander on SBNation Radio. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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