Over the past few weeks, teams around the NFL have been trying to figure out what their stadium capacity should be for the upcoming season, and if the Baltimore Ravens are any indication, it's starting to look like NFL stadiums are going to be mostly empty this year. The Ravens announced on Wednesday that the capacity at M&T Bank Stadium will be set to just 14,000, which is an 81.3% cut from the stadium's normal capacity of roughly 71,000.
There's also a chance that fans won't be allowed to attend any Ravens games at all, but that decision hasn't been made yet. Before making a final decision on whether or not fans will be allowed to attend games, team president Dick Cass said that the Ravens will monitor protocols being developed by health experts, governmental officials and the NFL.
"To offer a proper level of safety for fans who want to attend games, a reduction in capacity is necessary," Cass said. "We are disappointed that this will be a disruption for many ticket buyers, but we have an obligation to our fans and our community to keep M&T Bank Stadium as safe as possible."
The Chiefs and Packers have also announced that the capacity at their stadiums will be drastically cut, although neither team gave a specific capacity number like the Ravens. It wouldn't be surprising at all if multiple teams end up following in Baltimore's footsteps by drastically cutting their own stadium capacities. For the 2020 season, the NFL is allowing each team to dictate its own capacity this year with the expectation that the final number will be based on local health rules and protocols that are in place for the coronavirus pandemic.
One thing that will be interesting to watch is whether or not a reduced capacity will have any effect on a team's home-field advantage. For instance, Baltimore has been one of the toughest places to play over the past two years with the Ravens going 13-3 at home since the start of the 2018 season. However, if there are only 14,000 fans in attendance (or none at all), it will be interesting to see if the Ravens lose their home-field edge, which could potentially shake things up for bookies trying to make the odds in Vegas.
Even if fans are allowed to attend games, there will still be some major differences from prior seasons. One of the biggest differences is that the NFL is considering the possibility of requiring fans to sign a waiver if they want to attend a game.
No matter what happens, no team in the NFL will have a full stadium in 2020, and that's because the league has already decided that the top six to eight rows in every building will be blocked off with a tarp. All the protocols are being put in place for the safety of fans, players and team personnel.