Rams preparing for no fans in SoFi Stadium’s opening season

NFL American football franchise the Los Angeles Rams has announced that its new SoFi Stadium will be at limited or no capacity in 2020, while season tickets will not be possible for its debut campaign.

The Rams have become the latest NFL team to outline their plans for the new season amid COVID-19, stating their intentions in a letter to Stadium Seat License (SSL) holders.

Season tickets will be deferred to the 2021 season, with SSL holders given priority for 2020 single game tickets if fans are allowed in the stadium. All previous single game ticket purchases and transferred tickets will be cancelled.

In May, it was announced that SoFi Stadium, which the Rams will share with the Chargers, would stage its first official event on August 14 when the Rams host the New Orleans Saints in pre-season.

The stadium had originally been due to open on July 25-26 with two Taylor Swift concerts but these were cancelled due to COVID-19. Further concerts from Guns N’ Roses on August 8 and Tim McGraw on September 4 were also cancelled because of the pandemic.

In its letter yesterday (Tuesday), the Rams said it anticipates that the NFL will cancel preseason in its entirety, which means the first NFL game at SoFi Stadium would be the team’s Week 1 Sunday Night Football opener against the Dallas Cowboys on September 13.

The Rams said the process for SSL holders to purchase individual game tickets for 2020 will be outlined at a later date. In the meantime, SSL holders can choose to opt out or in for the 2020 season.

Opting out confirms that they do not wish to attend games this season even if fans are allowed to attend in a limited capacity. SSL holders are being asked to opt out by July 31, but they will retain all of their non-gameday benefits and will not be impacted long-term by this decision. Whether they apply funds to 2021 or request a refund has no impact on their benefits.

By choosing to stay on for the 2020 season, SSL holders will have first priority for individual tickets, should fans be allowed into SoFi Stadium. Any funds paid toward 2020 season tickets will be left on accounts to be used toward individual game tickets.

In May, NFL owners voted unanimously to provide Rams owner Stan Kroenke with an additional $500m (£393.8m/€432m) in financing to help complete SoFi Stadium. The venue’s budget is now said to have risen from an initially projected $2.2bn to between $5bn and $6bn, with the Rams currently grappling with how COVID-19 will affect revenues for the new Inglewood stadium.

If fans are allowed into the 70,000-capacity stadium, attendances will reportedly be limited to 15,000 to adhere to social distancing measures. The Rams have outlined how home gamedays are likely to look in this instance, based on federal, state, local and NFL guidelines.

Protocols are likely to include that fans must always wear a mask on their face unless actively eating or drinking. This would include inside clubs and suites. Seating blocks will be set up to promote social distancing, with separation of six feet between blocks. Seating block sizes will vary and be able to accommodate between one and 10 guests.

All purchase stations will be strictly cashless. ‘Reverse ATMs’ will be available on each concourse for those who need to convert cash to gift cards. Hand sanitising stations will be located throughout the stadium, while health screening protocols are likely to include a waiver for all game attendees to sign before entering as well as temperature checks for staff and potentially attendees.

Earlier this week, the New York Giants and New York Jets announced their games at MetLife Stadium will be held behind closed doors until further notice to meet COVID-19 regulations in the state of New Jersey.

The New England Patriots last week stated they expect to operate Gillette Stadium at 20% capacity. The Baltimore Ravens earlier became the first team in the league to specify its intended attendance cap if fans are allowed at games during the 2020 season, with the Jacksonville Jaguars following suit.

The Philadelphia Eagles have been informed by city leaders that they shouldn’t expect to have fans in Lincoln Financial Field this season.

Image: LA Rams