BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — With the 2020 NFL schedule release fresh on the minds of football fans, the focus now shifts to whether or not there will be fans allowed into stadiums league-wide.
"Just because they announced the season schedule doesn't mean there will actually be fans in the stands," Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said Friday. "This is all new, we don't know, and I don't think we're going to know probably until August."
Poloncarz went onto say the Buffalo Bills are concerned and have communicated they'll follow the guidelines laid out by state and county government.
From a league standpoint, the plan is to still start the 2020 season on time with fans in attendance.
"In preparing to play the season as scheduled, we will continue to make our decisions based on the latest medical and public health advice, in compliance with government regulations, and with appropriate safety protocols to protect the health of our fans, players, club and league personnel, and our communities," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Thursday. "We will be prepared to make adjustments as necessary, as we have during this off-season in safely and efficiently conducting key activities such as free agency, the virtual off-season program, and the 2020 NFL Draft.”
One big domino to monitor -- the date of the Super Bowl. If the league pushes the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay back a few weeks or more, it could indicate whether or not they anticipate the regular season to start on time.
"Any city that bids on the Super Bowl and wins the bid has to have a contingency plan in place in case the game has to be pushed back," ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano said on Get Up Friday morning.
For the Bills specifically, their first preseason game is still more than three months away. Their regular-season opener is more than four months away. Yet with so many unknowns, Poloncarz doesn't think it will be business as usual for the 2020 NFL season.
" I would highly doubt you're going to see a packed house at the stadium this year," Poloncarz added. "If any fans are allowed I imagine it will be at a percentage of the overall capacity. If people are expecting there to be football games with 72,000 screaming fans in the crowd it's probably not going to happen."