Alabama Football: Look to NFL for fan capacity at Bryant-Denny

Alabama football fans want to know how many at Bryant-Denny.

Alabama football fans want to know and the SEC is not saying. Actually, the SEC is talking but saying little. In fairness to the conference, college stadium capacities will be decided by Governors, Mayors and college presidents. Such is the decentralized world of college football.

The SEC continues to delay a firm statement about the regular-season schedule. Those in charge might appear to be dithering. It is more about due diligence, trying to learn from the MLS, NBA, MLB and the NFL.

Decisions being made by NFL teams provide a reality-check for hopes of full college stadiums this fall. Following the directive of New Jersey Governor, Phil Murphy, the New York Giants and New York Jets will open the season with no fans. The Atlanta Falcons announced attendance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be between 10,000 and 20,000 fans. Unlike the statement from the Giants and Jets, the Falcons made no mention of possibly increasing capacity later in the season.

In Jacksonville, the capacity limit is expected to be below 25 percent. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Baltimore Ravens have said,

they expect a stadium capacity — “if fans are allowed” — below 14,000 per game.

Also according to the AJC, some teams have stated, even with some fans, the first eight rows in their stadiums will be covered by tarps throughout the season.

Reported by ESPN, the new SoFi Stadium will open with no fans at Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers games. If fans are later allowed, the $5B venue will allow a maximum capacity of 15,000.

According to Daniel Kaplan, writing for The Athletic, NFL stadium capacities may vary county-by-county within states.  Assuming the SEC takes a similar posture, home fields may take on a new meaning in 2020. Not only could the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Auburn Tigers have different capacities at home games, but some schools could also disproportionately lessen crowd restrictions. Would LSU be less restrictive at Tiger Stadium to enhance its ‘Death Valley’ advantage?

Whatever attendance decisions are made, Alabama football fans will be disappointed. There is only a small chance all Crimson Tide season ticket holders can be accommodated. What about social distancing some number of students? As we wrote weeks ago, ticket demand will far exceed the demand for big games.

Some Alabama football fans may be allowed tickets and still denied entry at Bryant-Denny. As every NFL team has so far mandated, mask-wearing will be a condition of attendance.