It is looking very likely that we will have an NFL season this year and some form of College Football as well. But one of the big questions is how many fans will be let into the stadiums, if any?
The original thought was that all fans would be banned, but more recent thinking is that social distancing measures could be implemented and a stadium with 80,000 to 100,000 seats could be filled safely at around 25% capacity.
A recent ESPN article lends credence to this idea. They have a quote from Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith who said based on their model, his team could have 20,000 -22,000 fans under current Social Distancing guidelines.
“We’re fortunate, with 100,000 seats in the stadium,” Smith said. “So could we implement the current CDC guidelines, state guidelines around physical distancing, mask requirements and all those types of things in an outdoor environment and have obviously significantly less fans than we are used to? I think it’s possible. I just feel like we have the talent and skill and space capacity to provide an opportunity for a certain number of fans to have access to our particular stadium. Of course, that wouldn’t be true across the country because of capacity. But I think we can get there.”
Betting Odds could be affected by fans in the stands
Many Sportsbooks like the Winning Poker Networks have already released odds for Week 1 and 2 of the NFL regular season. For example, The Patriots are 3.5-point underdogs at Seattle in Week 2. The Seahawks home stadium is one of the loudest in the NFL and it could be a big difference even if 20,000 to 25,000 fans are allowed in.
Bettors need to take these scenarios into consideration now. If it becomes known that Seattle’s crowd will be allowed to have even 20,000 fans, I could easily this spread against New England jump into the 4.5 to 5-point range, a big difference.