Lions not ruling out fans at home games; masks would be required

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions haven't ruled out hosting fans at Ford Field during the 2020 season, but the team informed season-ticket holders Wednesday to expect reduced capacity.

"The most prominent change will be the number of fans allowed to attend games at Ford Field," the letter to season-ticket holders said. "Though capacity restrictions have not yet been determined by government officials, we are anticipating a reduced seating capacity, with socially distanced seating.

Capacity at Ford Field will be limited during the 2020 season.

"A capacity reduction will impact season ticket membership for the 2020 season, as we will be unable to offer members customary and previously assigned seat locations. Once Michigan state government regulations are established and the NFL finalizes specific game day protocols, we will provide further updates regarding seating options for the 2020 season."

Previously, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned full stadiums were not something to expect this full, although limited capacity limits aren't clear in the state's "Safe Start Plan." 

The sixth and final phase of the plan, considered post-pandemic, is when the state is set to allow events of any size. Phase five allows increased gatherings with social distancing, which aligns with the Lions' letter to season-ticket holders.

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The state is currently in phase four of its plan, described as cases and deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic decreasing, while still being high, overall. 

In addition to reduced capacity at Ford Field, masks will be required for fans attending NFL games across the league, not just in Detroit. 

Several other teams have already announced plans for fan attendance this season, with multiple stadiums planning to allow around 20-percent capacity. The New York Jets and Giants, which both play at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, recently announced they won't have any fans at home games this season. 

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"Today Governor (Phil) Murphy announced that, due to the ongoing public health crisis, his Executive Order limiting outdoor public gatherings will apply to events at MetLife Stadium until further notice," a joint statement from the two New York teams said. "This decision was reached after careful consideration of the current state of the COVID-19 crisis, in discussions with the Giants and Jets, and in consideration of the health and safety of our fans, players and staff, which will continue to be the primary focus for our teams.

"We support Governor Murphy's decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Giants and Jets will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance. Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Governor Murphy's office and will provide updates if necessary."

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers