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Could Super Bowl LV be played without fans in attendance?

Lombardi Trophy, Super Bowl
Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events in sports each year, with millions of fans watching the game at home and thousands of people from across the globe attending the big game. But could the COVID-19 pandemic impact Super Bowl LV in a way we’ve never seen before?

As the NFL makes plans to hold a full season on schedule in 2020, the league is discussing many contingency plans to account for the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the possibilities, if the coronavirus delivers a second wave, could see the league take drastic steps to preserve Super Bowl LV.

One NFL source suggested to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman that the NFL might need to consider not allowing any fans at the stadium for Super Bowl LV if things get worse. While the upcoming Super Bowl will be held in Florida, which is opening up to all sports despite the pandemic, the NFL might need to think about the worst-case scenario.

Many medical experts believe there could be a second wave of the coronavirus in the winter, which would lead to countless more people testing positive for the virus and the United States suffering a major setback. Given no vaccine is expected for at least a year, there is a risk that strict stay-at-home orders and bans on mass gatherings could return in 2021.

The NFL has also considered moving Super Bowl LV back, potentially into March. The league has an agreement in place with Tampa to allow the NFL to use Raymond James Stadium to host the Super Bowl on different dates in February.

While Florida governor Ron DeSantis is opening the state back up and would love for it to be the home for sports to return, he also knows the risks of COVID-19. He suggested in February, the virus could have spread at Super Bowl LIV, which was held in Miami.

If a second and more severe wave of the coronavirus hits and states are forced to enact far stricter protocols, it’s possible the NFL would have to play Super Bowl LV in an empty Raymond James Stadium. While the league would still enjoy great television ratings, losing out on 65K-plus tickets sold and not being able to host fan events for Super Bowl week would be devastating.

Fortunately, everyone around the league remains confident for the time being that some NFL fans will be able to attend games this season. If the worst-case scenario happens, though, it’s smart for the NFL to prepare for it.

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