The NFL is set to get hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic when it comes to money if teams are forced to have limited or no fans in the stands for the 2020 season.
The league is still planning to have a normal schedule at the moment. However, it is looking more and more likely it be doing so without fans in the stands. That creates a pretty obvious problem: All the money teams and the NFL in general will be losing by not having fans at the games.
While television and other broadcast deals remain in place and should give the teams a nice chunk of money, tickets are a major source of revenue and not making that money could present short- and long-term problems.
The good news, however, is the NFL has found a way to make some of that money back. With no fans in the stands, that’s a lot of empty space. So there is a plan in place to monetize that area.
According to Ben Fischer of Sports Business Daily, the NFL will tarp off the lower six to eight rows of seats to help protect the health of players and coaches. Those areas will then be used for advertising space. Fischer writes:
“Under a plan shared with team presidents on Tuesday, the first six to eight rows of seating in every stadium — including on-field suites — will be off limits to fans this season. That move is officially to protect players, coaches and team staff from coronavirus exposure, but it would also free up that space to become lucrative sponsorship assets.
“Sources said those seats will be covered by tarps that could include sponsor logos, similar to how EPL teams repurposed empty seating sections for ads during its return to play last week. The plan will be presented to owners at a meeting tomorrow, and they are not expected to oppose it.”
This should help offset some of the expected revenue loss that could then trickle down to the players by way of reducing the salary cap in 2021 and beyond.