Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida, is still four and a half months away.
But it’s still too early to tell if the league will be able to have some, if any, fans at America’s largest sporting event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There are still plenty of uncertainties regarding the timeline of a possible vaccine, after all.
And if the NFL has no choice but to play the Super Bowl with no fans in attendance?
Jonathan Barker, the league’s head of live events and production, explained that they’re fully prepared for that scenario during an interview with the Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
“Well, we certainly have to prepare for that,” Barker said. “Our hope is going to be to fill this stadium with fans. That’s our hope. But the smart thing to do is to prepare just in case. If we find ourselves on Feb. 7 where we’re in different scenario, we’re going to just make sure we’re ready for that.”
The Buccaneers are currently in the majority of teams who haven’t yet welcomed any fans in attendance. They didn’t allow spectators for their season opener on Sunday, a 31-17 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
As Stroud noted, the Buccaneers also won’t allow fans for their Week 4 home tilt against the Los Angeles Chargers, though they hope to have some spectators for the Week 6 showdown against Aaron Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers.
Raymond James Stadium was scheduled to host WWE’s WrestleMania 36 event on Apr. 5. The pandemic forced WWE to change its plans, and they instead ran a pre-taped two-night show on the March 25-26 weekend at the Performance Center in Orlando, with no fans in attendance.
The stadium has played host to two different Super Bowls in the 21st century: Super Bowl XXXV between the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants on Jan. 28, 2001, and Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals on Feb. 1, 2009.
Super Bowl LV marks the second straight year in which the state of Florida hosts the Super Bowl; Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium was the venue for Super Bowl LIV between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.
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