The Seattle Seahawks announced Wednesday they will play their first three home games without fans, the latest adjustment to the 2020 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those games are the home opener against New England on Sept. 20, Dallas on Sept. 27 and Minnesota on Oct. 11. Both the New England and Minnesota games are set for a 5:20 p.m. start and televised on NBC while the Dallas game is a 1:25 p.m. start.
The team said it will “continue to follow the lead of public health and government officials” to influence further decisions about potentially having fans for the other five home games.
Said the team in a statement announcing the decision: “After careful consideration, we have made the difficult determination to play at least our first three home games (Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 11) without fans in attendance. While CenturyLink Field has become the best home field advantage in the league thanks to the energy and passion of the 12s, the health and safety of all of our fans, players and staff remains our top priority.
“While we are hopeful that conditions will improve as the season moves forward, we will continue to follow the lead of public health and government officials to make future decisions about having fans in attendance.”
The Seahawks announced further that “if conditions improve and it is determined that it is safe for fans to attend games under a limited capacity, the Seahawks will reach out to season ticket holders who have requested to continue receiving gameday details.”
The NFL has been leaving it to teams to make decisions on having fans in the stands and as the season has gotten nearer teams are beginning to announce their status for early home games.
The Atlanta Falcons, who will host Seattle in each team’s season opener on Sept. 13, announced earlier this week they will not have fans in attendance for their first two home games.
The first home game for which there might be fans this season? A date with the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 1.
The Seahawks have had 146 consecutive sellouts at CenturyLink Field dating to the 2003 season, and last year Seattle had a 97% season-ticket renewal rate while selling all 61,000 season tickets available. It was the seventh consecutive season the Seahawks had a 97% or better renewal rate.
The Seahawks announced in July that they would offer full refunds for season-ticket holders for the 2020 season, or the ability to pause for a year and credit the account for the 2021 season.
The Seahawks will have two “mock games” at CenturyLink Field, on Saturday and on Aug. 26, that will be run-throughs for the team on playing in the stadium without fans.
“We’ll be accustomed to it, to some extent,” coach Pete Carroll said earlier this week at the prospect of playing regular season games without fans. “Once we’re there and we’ve done it a couple times it won’t be a big deal.”
The NFL is reportedly also considering a league-wide policy regarding fan noise in stadiums without fans.