While the MLB has found mixed success around their fan-less approach, the NFL would be the first major American sports league to have fans since the March shutdown.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has been adamant that fans will be in the stands of AT&T Stadium this season, despite what many other states and officials have been recommending. This week, Jones spoke to the media and actually said that it's unlikely the stands will be at 50% capacity this season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said AT&T Stadium "more than likely won't be at 50% capacity" for Sept. 20 home opener vs. Falcons. "We'll see how the lay of the land is as we get closer." Team has not publicly established an exact attendance figure.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 28, 2020
A few weeks ago Jones was singing a bit of a different tune, saying that “the Dallas Cowboys plan on playing football, and we plan on playing in front of our fans.” It seems almost impossible that the Cowboys could have 50% capacity (roughly 40,000 people) in their stadium in just a few weeks, but there does seem to be a way they could bring fans in some sort of limited capacity later on.
Still, the league could come down with an NFL-wide mandate around fans in the stands, and quite honestly they probably should. The rules should be uniform across the league, and the smartest decision does seem to remain fan-less for at least the first few weeks of the season.
The NFL season is a long one, though, and we could be in a much different world with the pandemic come a few months.