The fleeting chance of fans being permitted at Eagles’ home games this year is almost gone.
The Eagles announced Thursday that state and local officials have concluded that Lincoln Financial Field will be closed to the public during games “until further notice” because of the coronavirus pandemic. Team officials are expecting to continue to work with the state and the city on fan attendance, according to the Eagles’ statement.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won’t host fans at Heinz Field for at least the first two games of the season, according to an ESPN report.
The Eagles’ home opener is scheduled for Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. against the Los Angeles Rams. Their next home game is the following Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Team president Don Smolenski said in a video interview that there’s still a chance fans will be allowed in the stadium later in the season.
“What’s been encouraging in our dialogue with the state and the city is that they’re both open to continuing the conversation,” Smolenski said. “I think based on the condition and the environment, at this time, that certainly for the beginning of the season we will not have the ability to have fans, but we’re going to continue the conversations, and we’re going to continue to take it as we go through the 2020 season.”
Earlier this week, cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman called on the state and city to find a way to get fans in the stadium, citing the advantage crowd noise and energy can give to a defense.
“I’m a defensive guy, so I need fans,” Robey-Coleman said. “That’s a big edge. People don’t know how much that affects offenses. It affects receivers, especially when the momentum is on the defensive side. ... I really hope that the City of Philadelphia can come up with a plan to let the fans in the stadium.”
The team sent out a message to season ticket-holders:
“Over the last few months, we have been working closely with state and local government agencies, public-health experts, and league officials to develop health and safety protocols as we prepare for the 2020 season. As part of this planning, we discussed a variety of scenarios around fan attendance at Lincoln Financial Field. Our conversations have been very productive, and everyone involved understands how important you are to the organization, to our players, and to the overall game-day experience. However, due to the ongoing health crisis, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and City of Philadelphia have communicated to us that hosting fans at the stadium will not be permitted until further notice.”