The Detroit Lions still hope to have fans in attendance at Ford Field this season.
The team announced Aug. 21 that no fans will be in attendance for its first two home games of the season: for the opener Sept. 13 against the Chicago Bears and Oct. 4 against the New Orleans Saints. They don’t play another home game until Week 8, on Nov. 1 against the Indianapolis Colts.
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Speaking virtually during the team’s annual kickoff luncheon hosted by the Detroit Economic Club, president Rod Wood said Monday he hopes the four-week span between the team’s second and third home games will buy everyone more time to see how the COVID-19 situation plays out across the NFL.
“There’s a lot of time thankfully for us between now and our third game of the season,” he said. “The way the schedule worked out, it’s Nov. 1 against the Colts. We have an early bye and we have several road games. So we do have some time hopefully to see how things continue to progress with the virus.”
There appear to be five NFL teams — the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars — that will host fans in some capacity to start the season. Wood said he hopes to learn those teams’ experiences and continue to work with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office so that the Lions can open Ford Field to fans starting Nov. 1, when the team would begin a stretch of playing six of its final 10 games at home.
“Obviously we hope that goes well in those stadiums so we can learn and watch what happens there,” Wood said, “and continue to work with the governor’s office and her advisers to get them comfortable that we can host fans in a way that’s safe, which I’m very comfortable and confident that we can.
“And I do think at the end of the day if we do it well, and I think you’ll see that with those games that are going to have fans early on, it could be a great example for the whole country as to how you’re supposed to behave with this virus: people will be wearing masks, they will be 6 feet apart, there will be a lot of safety measures in the stadium, temperatures being taken, questionnaires being filled out, Plexiglas between concession stands and the fans.
“And I think a lot of the things that are being preached about what you can do to prevent the spread you’ll be able to see live on TV. And I think we can continue to be a good example for everybody if we’re allowed to have fans and do it in a safe way. So I’m very hopeful that Weeks 8 and on through the rest of the season we can have fans.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.