Philadelphia backtracks on fan ban for Eagles games at Lincoln Financial Field

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Cassandra Negley
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Update: July 15

A day after city officials announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed to attend Philadelphia Eagles home games this fall, a statement from Mayor Jim Kinney’s office backtracked on that stance.

“The City of Philadelphia’s moratorium announced yesterday does not apply to stadiums or other private property,” the statement reads. “It covers only events that require city permits and take place on public property. …

“Currently in the initial ‘modified Green Phase,’ the city of Philadelphia prohibits outdoor events involving more than 50 people. These restrictions do not apply to Lincoln Financial Field. However, this is a fluid situation, and this policy is under constant review.”

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The Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies will be allowed to host games at their home stadiums this year, but will not be approved to have fans in attendance, the city of Philadelphia announced Tuesday.

The city banned all large events of 50 or more people on public property, such as parades and public festivals, through February 2021. Events on private property like venues and stadiums are not included in the ban, per Justine McDaniel of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

That means athletic events, which in the case of the NFL can consist of more than 200 players, coaches, personnel and accompanying staff, can be played. But the city will not allow a crowd and specifically addressed the Eagles in a news briefing on Tuesday.

Eagles not allowed to have crowds, city says

Health commissioner Thomas Farley said the leagues’ protocols for playing during the pandemic “look pretty good” but having any sort of crowd is the problem. Via the Inquirer:

”I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there,” Farley said. “I can’t say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds.”

And it was made clearer by Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy, who submitted his resignation earlier Tuesday so “different voices can lead” during the Black Lives Matter movement. He will step down Sept. 4.

“The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds,” Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Abernathy said NFL guidelines also “remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don’t expect any issues.”

“We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don’t have fans,” Albernathy said.

The ban also excludes private events that are not advertised, such as weddings or family reunions, with fewer than 50 guests, but those venue managers must follow the Philadelphia Department of Public Health guidelines.

The NFL is planning to hold its season as scheduled. The Phillies will host an abbreviated season as part of the MLB’s 2020 season, which will be played at teams’ home stadiums rather than in a bubble league.

The Eagles will not be allowed to have fans, the city of Philadelphia said on Tuesday. ( Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
The Eagles will not be allowed to have fans, the city of Philadelphia said on Tuesday. ( Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Army-Navy, Temple also impacted by ban

The annual Army vs. Navy college football game is scheduled for Dec. 12 at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple University will also not be allowed to have fans at games. The football team has called Lincoln Financial Field its home since 2003 and in February extended its deal for another five years.

As the spread of COVID-19 continues into mid-July, it becomes less likely any fans will be allowed at NFL or college football games. Teams were banking on having at least partial capacity at stadiums this autumn.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hasn’t been optimistic about having a football season at all. However, he has praised bubble season plans such as the NBA’s in Orlando that is set to tip off later this month.

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