Even though sports like UFC, NASCAR, and now the PGA Tour have returned, it’s been over three months since we had daily action taking place in arenas and stadiums across the United States.
While NBA action will be resuming in July, along with the hopeful returns of the NHL and Major League Baseball, fans will not be admitted. It remains to be seen whether fans will be able to attend college football or NFL games in the fall, but whenever spectators do come back, they will likely have a new experience at the stadium or arena than what they were used to.
Here are five changes that are being talked about for when sporting events resume in front of fans.
Wearing masks has become a point of contention in the US, but expect sports leagues and teams to make it mandatory that spectators wear masks to events. This shouldn’t be a huge issue for indoor sports like basketball or hockey, but masks can pose some comfort problems during summer baseball games or football games in warm-weather cities. Masks would also have to be removed to consume food or beverages – which you will likely have to go and get at the concession stand instead of relying on vendors who come right to your seat.
Room to Spread Out
Fans will likely take this change positively, as stadiums will likely only have 25-50% capacity when things start up, meaning that every other seat may be used or entire lows may be left empty. This will be due to social distancing guidelines that call for people being at least six feet apart from each other, so stretch out and enjoy that extra space!
The Return of Fans May Be Slow
A recent study showed that nearly three-quarters of people surveyed will not return to sporting events until a vaccine for COVID-19 is released, meaning that even if fans are allowed later this year, there may not be many people interested in attending.
Less Interaction With Athletes
At baseball games in particular, having a ball thrown a person’s way or getting an autograph before the game is almost as important as the game itself for some. But with social distancing likely to still be enforced for the foreseeable future, players will unlikely be allowed to interact with fans as closely as they once did.
Some Areas May See Fans Sooner Than Others
Due to different parts of the country being affected by the virus more than others, we might see a scenario where fans are admitted in one arena but not another, or one could be at full capacity while another is only allowed to be half-full. This scenario may not happen due to competitive balance issues (a team will a full arena or stadium will be at a greater advantage as opposed to a team that is not allowed to have fans), but because fans would lead to extra revenue for teams and leagues, this will be a scenario worth looking out for as sports (and crowds) resume.