Even though fans won’t be permitted at Lincoln Financial Field to start the NFL season, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie hasn’t given up on having fans in attendance this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just a few days ago, the Eagles announced that fans won’t be allowed at the Linc “until further notice” but Lurie is hoping that after September there might be a chance.
Initially there’s not going to be fans at our games,” Lurie said on a Zoom call with reporters Sunday afternoon. “We have been trying very, very hard to come up with solutions that are safe and innovative in time for the beginning of the season. And we’ve had a lot of really creative and constructive conversations with the state and the city. And that continues on a daily and weekly basis.
“We are hopeful there are going be real ways of having significant fans in our stadium pretty soon. Maybe not for September, but after that and we’re looking at innovative ways of testing with rapid testing, with point-of-care testing, with home testing. There’s a lot of ways to kind of approach this and we’ve been incredibly proactive working with companies around the planet to see what they’re up to and whether we can implement testing procedures that would allow the public (to attend).
In an email to season ticket holders, the Eagles said they would communicate when the time comes if fans are allowed in the stadium this season.
The Eagles begin the 2020 season on the road but their home opener is on Sept. 20 against the Rams. The good news as far as this is concerned is that the Eagles have six of their eight home games from Oct. 18 through the end of the season.
Lurie on Sunday acknowledged the Eagles’ homefield advantage (they are 23-9 under Doug Pederson at the Linc) and also mentioned the “away field advantage” at places like Washington, Los Angeles and Miami, where Eagles fans have flocked in recent seasons.
Right now, though, it appears that there will not be consistency with fans in NFL stadiums. Some stadiums might have fans and others might not. Bills head coach and former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott recently said that inconsistency was “ridiculous” and Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer also brought up the “competitive disadvantage” this might bring.
But Lurie isn’t interested in preventing fans from attending games in 2020 just to level the playing field.
“So it’s frustrating but at the same time, I’ve got to say, we as a team, Doug leading the way, we’re out to win every game,” Lurie said. “And, yes, maybe there’s an advantage for a team to have 10,000, 20,000 fans but we’re not going to let that stop us. We embrace the situation. Do we really want to prevent those 20,000 fans wherever it is to be unable to watch their team play because we’re not able to have fans on the East Coast? I don’t think so.
“Fans are the backbone of the sport and I really believe that I wouldn’t want to sit here and tell you that we’re going to stop fans in Arizona or wherever it is from attending if it’s safe there just because we think it’s some advantage. I’d rather have them enjoy our sport. I know that’s different than Sean, but just as a philosophy here, whatever the pandemic brings, whatever the ramifications are, let’s embrace it completely and try to win every single football game and go full force ahead.”
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