Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies won’t be allowed to have fans at home games in 2020, a city official said Tuesday.
“The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds,” Brian Abernathy told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds.”
The city on Tuesday announced that all public events over 50 people that require a permit are prohibited until February because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although NFL games are considered private events, the NFL’s guidelines give local authorities the right to ban spectators from games. As such, city officials can overrule the team if they attempt to allow fans.
The city is confident that the games will be able to be played behind closed doors, however. Health commissioner Thomas Farley said the league’s safety protocols “look pretty good,” and he is optimistic the season will be played.
“I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing,” Farley said. “I do think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there. I can’t say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds.”
The ban affects college football as well. The annual Army-Navy game is scheduled to be played at Lincoln Financial Field on December 12, while Temple University plays its home games at the stadium. All will be played without fans.
Abernathy, who oversees the city’s operational departments, will resign in the coming weeks due to unrest after the killing of George Floyd, according to the Inquirer.
The ban also excludes private events with fewer than 50 people, though they must adhere to local health guidelines.
MLB is expected to begin its season later this month following a coronavirus-related hiatus while the NFL is slated to begin in September.
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