Fanless NFL Season Would Cost the League $5.5 Billion

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AP Photo/Mike McCarn

If the National Football League plays an entire season without fans in the stands, it would cost the league a staggering amount of money.

According to Mike Ozanian of Forbes, a season without spectators would cost the league $5.5 billion.

That figure comes from compiling the league’s projected losses in ticket sales, concessions, parking, and merchandise. Ozanian does a team-by-team breakdown of how the loss of fans would impact each organization. Squads like the Cowboys and Patriots, who have higher attendance and do better with merchandising, would take a greater hit. While teams like the Bills and Bengals would see a smaller impact.

The merchandising, concessions, merchandising, and parking, factors represent 38% of the league’s total revenue according to 2018 figures.

As Pro Football Talk reports:

It’s unclear whether and to what extent games will be played without fans. It’s possible that some states will allow stadiums to be open, and that others won’t. It’s also possible that medical advances in the coming weeks and months (such as a greater understanding of what it means to test positive for coronavirus antibodies) will make it easier to open stadiums and invite fans at low or no risk for developing COVID-19.

Any money lost in 2020 will potentially affect the 2021 salary cap. As recently explained, however, the league and the union set the annual spending limit via negotiation, and it’s possible that the two sides will agree to, for example, borrow against future salary caps in order to keep the 2021 cap at or near where it otherwise would have been.

Falcons Owner Arthur Blank has recently speculated that the league season could begin without fans. While Panthers Owner Dave Tepper has held open the possibility of limited fan attendance with social distancing protocols enforced.

However, in the final analysis, September is still a long way away and a lot will happen with the virus between now and then.

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn

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