The Green Bay Packers are suspending fan attendance at Lambeau Field indefinitely after an increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Green Bay and Wisconsin area. Per the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the seven-day average percent positive of COVID-19 cases by person has risen to 17% as of Monday, October 5, an increase of 7% from September 5th (when the percentage of seven-day positive cases was 10%) and an increase of 9.5% from August 5 (percentage of 7.5%).
"We are very concerned with the rate of infection in our area," said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy in a statement released from the team's website. "We are trending in the wrong direction in terms of hospitalization and positive cases, and based on recommendations from community healthcare and public health officials, hosting fans at the stadium for games is not advisable at this time.
"We'd all like to resume safely attending games at Lambeau Field. We know enjoying gameday is an integral part of our community and recognize how important it is to our area. However, the health and safety of our players, staff and community is our priority. We all need to take the pandemic seriously and do our part to reduce the spread of the virus, which should lead to significant improvement in the rates of infection and hospitalizations. At that point we'll be able to experience games in person.
"We urge everyone to wear masks, socially distance and practice proper hand hygiene. When watching our games, please limit the people with whom you cheer to your small circle of family or close friends."
Packers fans were unable to attend the home opener against the Detroit Lions in Week 2 and a "Monday Night Football" showdown against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4. This decision is significant since the Packers are a publicly held nonprofit corporation and have been since the 1923 season. The franchise has been kept intact by its public shareholders -- the fans. There are 361,311 people (representing 5,009,518 shares) that are owners of the Packers franchise, a fanbase that has supported Green Bay through five stock sales with the latest happening in 2011. The Packers are governed by a board of directors and a seven-member executive committee -- while shareholders do not receive any dividend on the investment.
The decision to not have fans at Packers games is a blow to the Green Bay community, especially since the state of Pennsylvania adjusted public gathering limits this week -- allowing up to 7,500 people for outdoor venues that hold more than over 10,000 people (or 15% of maximum occupancy). The Pittsburgh Steelers announced Tuesday Heinz Field will make about 5,500 tickets available for Sunday's Week 5 contest against the Philadelphia Eagles.